The Jakarta Post
Twenty-two-year old Lucky unrelentingly whistled to encourage his bird to sing and dance inside an ornate cage at a singing competition for birds conducted recently at Banteng Square in Central Jakarta.
'Violet, Violet, please dance. Don't stop singing,' he yelled, but his bird Violet remained silent. It did not even move its head.
Lucky shouted from a distance outside a fenced field while his bird's cage hung on hooks suspended about 3 meters high on a metal grid in the center of the field.
His voice was obscured by the boisterous screams of hundreds of other bird owners who, like him, encouraged their birds to entice the jury members and spectators with their dances and tunes. But Violet was silent for a short moment only. She started to dance and sing as Lucky continued to whistle and wave his hands.
At the end of the contest, Violet received a blue flag from jury, meaning she got second place in her category.
'Not bad, at least Violet got second place,' Lucky told The Jakarta Post while carrying Violet's cage. The native Jakartan smiled as he walked toward his vehicle.
Unlike Lucky, who was happy with his bird's runner-up position, 52-year-old Acay from Bekasi in West Java looked morose as he took down his bird from the metal grid. His bird Iloko won nothing in the contest.
'Stupid jury members! They just paid attention to birds on the outer row,' he grumbled while leaving the field.
Other bird owners occasionally yelled out their birds' numbers to direct the jury members to look at them.
'Please, look at number 27! My bird is still singing and dancing,' shouted one bird owner. 'Jury, please don't just stand in the middle [row],' others yelled.
Screaming, whistling and hand-waving are actually forbidden during the contest because they can distract the attention of the jury. However, security officers seemed unable to stop the hundreds of bird owners from doing so.
In fact, the screaming and whistling made the contest alive and entertaining. The shouting people, through their funny expressions, brought laughter to most of the audience.
The organizing committee's head, Rico, said that the one-day contest had attracted about 4,000 bird owners, not included the thousands of other bird aficionados who came to the Banteng field just to watch the contest and to have a look around the bird exhibition held as part of the contest.
He said people attending the contest and the exhibition came from many regions in the archipelago. 'The 4,000 participants are just like what we have targeted,' he told the Post.
The contest was divided into several categories. Each category was distinguished by its prize and registration fee.
The most expensive category, called Monas Class, had a first prize of Rp 30 million (US$2,200), with
Rp 10 million for the runner-up and Rp 5 million for third place. To join this category, each participant paid a Rp 1 million registration fee.
The cheapest category, Ondel-ondel Class, provided a first prize of Rp 1.5 million, while the runner-up and third place received Rp 750,000 and Rp 350,000, respectively. Participants in this category were required to pay a Rp 100,000 registration fee.
Those birds eligible to participate in the Monas Class are the murai batu (white-rumped shamas), kacer (magpie robins), lovebirds and cucak hijau (green bulbuls). Birds allowed to compete in the Ondel-ondel Class are lovebirds, pleci (white-eyes), branjangan (Horsfield's bushlarks), colibri (hummingbirds) and tledekan (hill blue flycatchers).
Besides serving as a solace for the nation's bird lovers, the contest also brought fortune to nearby residents who came to the field to sell food and bird-related items, such as cages, bird food and ornate bird cage covers.
'This contest and exhibition helps stimulate economic circulation for the nearby community. Nearby hotels are, of course, packed with the visitors of this contest now,' said Afdal, another member of the organizing committee. (saf)
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