The Jakarta Post
The women of Wakatobi regency pose for the camera. (Kaledupa Island Tourism Group via kompas.com/-)
In the regency of Wakatobi in Southeast Sulawesi province, the locals will be holding the Barata Kahedupa festival on Sept. 17 to 24.
Set to feature traditional arts of dance, games played by the rural folk, culinary fairs, and exhibitions of local products and crafts made by weaving materials, this annual event will be held on Kaledupa Island, with karia as its core event, which literally means "festivities".
The festival is generally held to commemorate important events in life such as aqiqah (infant haircuts), the transition from adolescence to adulthood, and marriage. But this year’s karia is said to be different, showing the entire traditional rites of passage from adolescence to adulthood, as children and unmarried young adults will attend this event.
Upon participating the celebration, festivalgoers will contribute crops such as maize, tubers and coconuts. The crops will later be used to serve the guests. The sound of the drums will be heard every morning and evening to initiate and close a day’s activities, as the festivities are a week long, as reported by kompas.com.
(Read also: Wakatobi: A paradise for divers)
The festival is also a matchmaking event, hence why those who are unmarried will be attending to potentially find a life-partner and spouse. The highlight of the festival is the procession Henauka Nu Mo'ane, which will be held on Sept. 17, and Henauka Nu Wowine on the day after.
At Henauka Nu Mo'ane, male organizers and participants will be marched from the mosque towards the karia. Meanwhile, Henauka Nu Wowine is when the female organizers and participants are brought from their homes towards karia with singing and dancing. The females would have undergone sombo, which is a traditional process of transition by being given a variety of advice, learning more about womanhood and includes prayers, as well as showers before and after the sombo, for their future life to go smoothly.
The females will be dressed in traditional karia attire furnished with magnificently beautiful trinkets, with a golden crown sitting on their heads adorned with flowers. At this moment, this would be the first time female participants touch the ground after the sombo. The real matchmaking process begins when parents of the males search for their son a girl and where then a proposal is made with the girl, followed by a parade going from house to house that includes bringing local food, money and agricultural products.
Later on, this festival will be closed with an event called Hebangka-bangka, which is celebrated aboard a ship on the last two days. (kha/kes)
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