9 Unique Regional Traditions for Indonesian Independence Day

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17th August is a special date for all Indonesians to celebrate Independence Day. A host of traditional activities are held in every neighborhood and village to celebrate this historic day of freedom. Activities include Indonesia red-white flag fluttering from every home, flag hoisting ceremony, traditional games competition, social service and visiting park of the patriots.

As a diverse and culturally rich nation, with a multitude of unique traditions and customs celebrated across its various regions, Indonesia also has unique regional traditions to celebrate Indonesian Independence Day:

Here are nine unique regional traditions to celebrate Indonesian Independence Day:

1. Torch Relay Race, Semarang

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The Torch Relay Race symbolizes the passing of the torch of independence from one generation to the next. The torch is carried by a series of runners along a designated route through the city of Semarang. This race usually involves a diverse group of participants, including athletes, students, members of the military, government officials, and representatives from various segments of society.

2. Peresean, Lombok

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Peresean is traditional competition that originated from Sasak Tribe in Lombok, Nusa Tenggara Barat. It is believed to have originated as a way for men to prove their bravery and strength. Peresean involves two participants, typically men, who engage in a combat duel using a rattan stick called a “penjalin.” The rules of the match dictate that participants strike their opponent’s body, specifically targeting the back and upper body. The duel is often accompanied by traditional music and chanting.

3. Barikan, Malang

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Barikan is a tradition that is held a night before Indonesian Independence day. People in Malang City perform this tradition in order to express gratitude to God for blessings that have been given to them. Afterwards the people of the neighborhood will gather to hear the reception remarks, sing national anthems, and send prayers to the nation.  The event ends with a communal feast.

4. Sail Boat Rally, Batam

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Batam maximizes its strategic riverfront setting by organizing an annual sailboat competition on the 17th of August. This event sees participants grouped into teams of three, five, or twelve individuals by the rally committee. The river comes alive with a spectacular display of vibrant sails adorning the participant boats. Notably, Banjarmasin City shares a similar tradition by hosting a rowing race along the Martapura River. In this captivating spectacle, each group consists of 5 to 10 members, showcasing the city’s rich Independence Day tradition.

5. Telok Abang, Palembang

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Telok Abang comprises red-painted boiled eggs, a distinct cultural practice hailing from Palembang. The nomenclature itself conveys its essence, with “Telok” signifying egg and “Abang” denoting red in the Palembang dialect. As the 17th of August approaches, a myriad of Telok Abang street vendors emerges, captivating both locals and tourists alike. A majority of these vendors ingeniously nestle the eggs within miniature toy corks, crafting replicas of ships, airplanes, and cars.

6. Parade of Decorative Cars, Medan

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In this tradition, participants are tasked with adorning their vehicles with a medley of colors and decorations. The stipulation holds true for all contestants. Typically, the parade attracts around fifty entrants representing various institutions. A notable aspect of the event includes captivating art displays and spirited drum band performances, adding a vibrant and creative dimension to the celebration.

7. Tirakatan, Jawa

9 Unique Regional Traditions for Indonesian Independence Day Tirakatan Jawa
source: tvonenews.com

The Javanese are likely well-acquainted with the esteemed Tirakatan night tradition. An obligatory custom, Tirakatan is a ritual that unfolds each year on the eve of August 17th, bringing forth a sense of solemnity and unity. This revered evening observance garners the presence of esteemed elders, village dignitaries, and local inhabitants. Attendees engage in a medley of activities, including the recitation of poetic verses that pay homage to the heroic deeds of the past.

8. Jampana Parade, Bandung

6 Unique Regional Traditions for Indonesian Independence Day Jampana Parade Bandung
source: misteraladin.com

This distinctive parade entails the grand procession of numerous ornate palanquins, each adorned with an array of locally grown crops, indigenous handicrafts, and an assortment of delectable cuisines. The parade showcases an impressive array of dozens of these palanquins, with each carried by a quartet of individuals. Residents and participants alike come together to partake in the shared feast, savoring the flavors of the varied cuisines.

9. Durian Football in Kebumen

6 Unique Regional Traditions for Indonesian Independence Day Sepakbola Durian Kebumen
source: pikiran-rakyat.com

This distinctive event takes the shape of spirited competitions, where locals partake in football matches with a twist—they substitute the conventional ball with durian fruit. Attendance is often limited to select individuals, including members of the Densus 99 paramilitary group and participants from spiritual circles. This unconventional celebration adds a remarkable facet to the commemoration of August 17, infusing a touch of adventure into the festivities.

These different regional traditions during Indonesian Independence Day is a way to express gratitude to the founders and to the nation, especially to commemorate national heroes who fought for the country’s independence. Does your region also have a unique tradition of celebrating Independence Day? Please share in the comments below!