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Jakarta Post

Tongtong Fair celebrates Europe'€™s pluralism

Ati Nurbaiti
The Hagues, Netherlands   ●   Mon, June 1, 2015

A pencak silat troupe involving child athletes performed in front of a crowd and earned repeat encores late Sunday at the Tongtong Festival in The Hague.

The silat schools of Pencak Silat Sedulur Asli and Pancasila were among hundreds of performers at the annual event, touted as the world'€™s largest annual Eurasian festival. It opened May 27 and runs through June (see

The schools are among the performers reflecting Eurasian heritage in the Netherlands, with the guru coming from Suriname, said David Partowihono, a descendant of the teachers and among the main silat instructors of the school that originated in Central Java.

The Dutch Indies recruited thousands of people from Java, mainly Central Java, to work plantations in Suriname. Many later migrated to the Netherlands and retained the Javanese language and aspects of the culture.

For the first time in Tongtong, started by Indonesian-Dutch and Dutch communities in The Hague, a band from Samarinda, East Kalimantan, also performed late Sunday.

'€œIn the following Tongtong Fairs we will bring jazz bands from Bali'€ and other areas, said the leader of YK Samarinda ethnic jazz band, Agus Setiawan, on Monday.

Visitors were enthusiastic to learn to play the local sampe guitar, he said.

Other workshops included a wayang class by leading puppeteer Ki Warseno Slenk and his son, Amar Pradopo.

The festival near the Centraal train station features hundreds of booths featuring traditional snacks and handicrafts from Indonesia, as well as from Cambodia and Thailand, as the Tongtong is now mixed with participants from other countries in the Asia Pacific. Visitors, for instance, also enjoyed performances from Hawaii.

Among the discussions held here on Sunday was one by writer Leila Chudori, who talked about her award-winning novel on exiles who fled to Europe following Indonesia'€™s 1960s political upheaval, Pulang, which is being translated into Dutch, with journalist Aboeprijadi Santoso and scholar Martin Eickhoff.

Visitors included elderly Dutch and Indonesian-Dutch, some in kain kebaya, Indonesians residing in nearby Paris and Brussels, and others with time for long-distance trips.

'€œI have birds to feed,'€ said Gea van Balueren, '€œso I enjoy the Tongtong,'€ although the appearances were becoming a bit routine, she said.

Rahmayuli, among Indonesians from Jakarta opening a booth here, said despite the tiring work at the fair, booth owners usually profited and returned every year.

'€œThen we can use the money for a low-cost trip'€ to nearby countries in Europe, she said.

Among her wares are guling (bolster pillow, called a '€œDutch wife'€ here), which appeared to be among favorite items among visitors.