The Jakarta Post
Hundreds of residents of Pesanggrahan, Kroya district, Cilacap regency, Central Java, participated in a parade on Monday, carrying jolen (miniature houses).
Also part of the parade were various local art performances of traditional tek-tek music, barongan (traditional masked dance groups), jaran kepang (bamboo horses), drum bands and dances.
Each jolen contained hundreds of bumbung (bamboo used as containers) in which locals saved their money to pay their property taxes this year.
Several months prior to the distribution of the tax reports, the subdistrict administration made an announcement on the matter, prompting residents to being saving money in the pierced bamboo stems.
That way, when the tax reports were distributed, they were all ready to pay. The residents delivered the money in a parade, which was usually conducted after they all received the tax reports.
“I have saved money since three months ago. Sometimes I saved Rp 2,000 (14 US cents) a day, some other days Rp 5,000,” said resident Karto Mulyono, who brought Rp 44,000 that day to pay his taxes.
Called Kirab Bobok Bumbung, which literally means the parade of breaking bamboo savings, the tax payments only took about an hour, lasting from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. local time.
The tradition has been conducted annually in Pesanggrahan for generations, according to subdistrict head Sarjo.
Covering 153 hectares, Pesanggrahan subdistrict comprises four hamlets, four community units and 12 neighborhood units. The population was 4,720 people in 1,329 families, most of whom work as farmers and traders.
“We are preserving a legacy from our ancestors. You will not find anything like this in other parts of Indonesia,” said Sarjo, adding that the parade was a form of compliance of his people toward the government.
Thanks to the tradition, all residents of Pesanggrahan had always paid taxes, Sarjo said.
On the day, the taxes collected from Pesanggrahan residents amounted to Rp 70 million, a 75 percent increase from the previous year, when Rp 40 million was collected. As many as 2,056 taxpayers fulfilled their obligations that day.
Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo, who watched the parade, said he was fascinated by the tradition.
“This is a rare event. I have never encountered such a practice before. This is a unique way of paying taxes,” Ganjar said.
Saving money in a section of bamboo cut is an old tradition within the Javanese community. Some also save money in traditional containers made of clay in the shape of animals like roosters and frogs. Once full, they would open them by splitting the bamboo or breaking the earthenware.
Ganjar added that the tradition was an efficient way of collecting tax money, given that the participants completed the process within an hour. (swa)