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Jakarta Post

Getting to know the Betawi better

  • Corry Elyda

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sun, September 14, 2014   /  10:20 am
Getting to know the Betawi better All things Betawi: Visitors pose with ondel ondel (traditional Betawi effigies) at the annual Lebaran Betawi festival at National Monument (Monas) park in Central Jakarta on Saturday. The festival runs until Sunday. (JP/Wendra Ajistyatama) (traditional Betawi effigies) at the annual Lebaran Betawi festival at National Monument (Monas) park in Central Jakarta on Saturday. The festival runs until Sunday. (JP/Wendra Ajistyatama)

All things Betawi: Visitors pose with ondel ondel (traditional Betawi effigies) at the annual Lebaran Betawi festival at National Monument (Monas) park in Central Jakarta on Saturday. The festival runs until Sunday. (JP/Wendra Ajistyatama)

Men and women with Betawi costumes '€” koko shirts for men and kebaya encim blouses for women '€” mingled around stands decorated with ondel ondel traditional Betawi effigies at the annual Lebaran Betawi festival at National Monument (Monas) park in Central Jakarta on Saturday afternoon.

Visitors tried traditional delicacies like selendang mayang, a dessert made from rice flour and palm sugar, while others enjoyed Melayu dangdut performances.

Representatives from Jakarta'€™s five municipalities and Thousand Islands regency showed off their traditional specialties while some small and medium enterprises used the event to generate extra cash.

The festival runs until Sunday evening.

Putri Prajasari, a 26-year-old visitor, said the festival had given her an opportunity to know Betawi
culture better.

'€œI am Minang, so I only know common things about Betawi culture, like its dishes such as kerak telor [a traditional omelet made of duck eggs and rice] and soto Betawi [beef soup],'€ she said.

Putri, who lives in Condet, East Jakarta, said she had never tried the iconic Condet snake fruit.

'€œI will visit East Jakarta'€™s Kramat Jati district booth. Some say the fruit is sold there,'€ she said.

The event'€™s organizing committee chairman, Rachmat H.S., said the festival, initiated by the Betawi Consultative Body (Bamus) and the city administration, wanted to strengthen bonds among the Betawi as well as promote Betawi culture to other Jakartans.

Rachmat said 44 districts and 98 Betawi mass organizations were taking part in the event.

'€œWe have various entertainments for visitors, including outdoor film screenings of Betawi legend Benyamin Sueb'€™s films like Biang Kerok [The Instigator] and Koboy Tengik [Spiteful Cowboy],'€ he said, adding that the screenings were scheduled for Saturday evening.

Other Betawi traditional performances included lenong (comedy theater), gambang kromong (music ensemble), palang pintu (a door-bolting tradition) and qasidah (traditional Islamic music).

Rachmat said the peak of the event would be on Sunday when Jakarta Deputy Governor Basuki '€œAhok'€ Tjahaja Purnama was set to receive gift hampers from the municipalities and organizations.

'€œIt'€™s a Betawi tradition to give food hampers to elders and leaders during Lebaran,'€ he said.

When visiting each booth, visitors had the chance to get to know many other food delights as well as the uniqueness of each district in the capital.

In the Kebayoran Lama district of South Jakarta, for example, visitors were treated to local delicacies like asinan (pickled vegetable salad) as well as a study of the history of the region. The word '€œKebayoran'€ is apparently derived from a wood called '€œBayur'€.

Meanwhile, Thousand Islands regency brought special seafood dishes. The stand of South Thousand Islands district even offered fresh sashimi for free.

Visitors could also shop for clothes, accessories and even vegetables at the festival.

Muhammad Subuh, the operational manager of Bens Radio, which also participated in the event, said his radio and community had participated in the festival since it began in 2008. '€œIt gives us an opportunity to show off our culture,'€ he said.

Subuh said although the enthusiasm of visitors had increased, enthusiasm from cultural organizations to participate in the festival seemed to be weakening.

'€œMore communities or organizations should have participated,'€ he said.

Municipalities and regencies take turns hosting Lebaran Betawi, which is an annual festival. However, although the host of last year'€™s festival was Thousand Islands, the event was held at Monas.

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