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Jakarta Post

Quarantined Indonesians take to social media, television airwaves to celebrate Kartini Day

  • Tri Indah Oktavianti

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, April 21, 2020   /   06:05 pm
Quarantined Indonesians take to social media, television airwaves to celebrate Kartini Day Traffic police officers wear the kebaya (traditional Indonesian blouse) to celebrate Kartini Day while at work in East Jakarta on April 20, 2018. (tribunnews.com/Fransiskus Adhiyuda)

With Indonesians prevented from celebrating Kartini Day to the full extent with festive parades and group competitions due to COVID-19, many have taken the celebration to the virtual realm by sharing social media posts, while others marked the occasion by watching a special television program.

Kartini Day is celebrated annually on April 21 to commemorate the birth of national heroine Raden Ajeng Kartini, who is hailed as a symbol of women’s empowerment in the country for promoting gender equity and women’s rights during the Dutch colonial era.

Most offices across the country usually celebrate the special day with women employees wearing kebaya (traditional Indonesian blouse) throughout the day. This form of celebration is not only limited to office workers, as everyone from women traffic police officers to surfers have been known to don the look.

Schools usually hold parades in which students wear kebaya or other costumes, in addition to staging student competitions.

With the government’s stay-at-home policy in effect as part of an effort to flatten the curve of COVID-19, people took to social media platforms on Tuesday to celebrate Kartini Day. Twitter users, for example, shared the hashtag #kartiniday while reminiscing over past parades that honored Kartini’s birthday.

The hashtag, along with the phrase Selamat Hari Kartini (Happy Kartini Day), became trending topics on Twitter in Indonesia by Tuesday at noon.

Twitter user @ddayrinmop made a post recounting a past experience of a Kartini Day parade. “When I was a third-grader in elementary school, I went to a salon at 2 a.m. [to prepare for the parade],” the user wrote.

Another user, @pembachot__, expressed regret over not being able to watch a live parade this year due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“April 21 is usually filled with dressing up and renting costumes for the parade and participating in various competitions,” the user tweeted. “It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t see such activities in schools this year.”

Public broadcaster TVRI celebrated the occasion by airing a special educational program targeted at senior high school students.

The program focused on telling stories of two national heroines: Maria Walanda Maramis from North Sulawesi and Keumalahayati from Aceh. Maria was known for her role in fighting for women’s right to vote for legislative agency representatives during the Dutch colonial era, while Keumalahayati fought against Dutch imperialists who came to Aceh in 1599.

The program was aired from 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday.