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The highlight of our rally so far has been attending the Festival Pesona Indonesia Budaya Tua Buton (Buton’s Festival of Traditional Culture) in Pasarwajo in the Buton Regency. Pesona Indonesia, the Indonesian tourism board, holds the Pesona Indonesia festivals around the country every year to promote the traditional culture and tourism. Lucky for us, the Wonderful Sail 2 Indonesia Rally participants were special guests for the 2018 Buton Festival! We were literally VIPs.
We knew it was going to be a huge day for us; the event was all day and we were gone from 8:30 am to 6 pm. We met the local head official, Rusdi, at the dock in Pasarwajo. The local tourism team coordinated buses to take us to the stadium, and we had a team of about a dozen locals, dressed in uniform so we could identify them. These locals all spoke pretty great English, and they did a fantastic job keeping us all together and happy!
I had a front row seat to watch the start of the dole-dole ritual. This ritual is incorrectly translated into traditional immunizations, but one of our guides told me the legend behind it.
Prince Betoambari was a sickly child, and his father feared for his health. The king meditated and was told to perform the Dole-dole ceremony. The prince grew up strong and healthy, so the king decreed that all children under the age of five should have this ritual.
One woman is in charge of the ceremony. She strips the baby down to their diaper. Special herbs are burnt in a small fire, and the smoke is cupped and “poured” over the child. Then the woman holds the child over the smoke belly down, then belly up. She feeds a small piece of broiled fish to the child, and then the mother lays the child down on a big palm and rubs some kind of oil (mineral? it was clear) over the baby’s skin. Of course, most of the time the baby is pretty upset and crying, and the women are alternately trying to soothe or wrestle the wriggling child into the ceremony.
This activity was translated as a “seclusion”. Historically, before a woman got married in Buton she would participate in a four-day seclusion ceremony. Much of that ceremony is abbreviated now, and I can not tell you what exactly these women went through prior to the festival, but the young women were dressed in gorgeous traditional outfits and makeup.
For more information about the Posuo, read Posuo, space and women: Buton community’s customary tradition and its preservation.
Yup….young boys were ritually circumcized a couple weeks ago, and they celebrated at the festival. It’s a bit of a coming-of-age celebration here, and the boys wore capes and crowns to celebrate.
For more information, read about the Tandaki.
About 100 women had traditional looms and were weaving the local Buton cloth. The cloth was for sale as well, and it was fascinating to watch the women make actual cloth – which I’d never seen done before.
A large part of the expo had rows and rows of round food stands set up with covers on them. Different departments of the local government were responsible for making the food to feed the festival attendees. The cruisers were spaced out in the crowd; we sat with Alain and Katia from S/V Frankiz and Nur, one of our team members.
This is when it got a bit boring – we had to listen to over an hour of speeches in Indonesian. The mayor spoke, the governor spoke, and a whole slew of other officials. We even had a sacrificial lamb from among us; Mike from S/V Revision II stood up and thanked everyone for inviting us and welcoming us to Buton.
Finally, the speeches were over and we ate. Each food stand had a variety of goodies to eat, and thankfully plates and silverware were prepared for us. We ate rice, chicken, roasted bananas, and a variety of cookies.
David’s host even feed him and called him handsome! She asked if I would be jealous! It was so cute. It was a bit awkward to eat while our hosts watched us, and we tried to get them to eat with us but Nur told us that everyone already ate (not true, I’m sure).
After we had finished eating, our staff corraled us into a meeting room with air conditioning and comfortable chairs. We relaxed for a little while and then the mayor presented us with a gift; local woven cloth for sarongs. Rusdi and his team helped us all dress in the traditional clothing.
After our break was over, we went out to the stadium. As VVIPs, we had special box seats with a stellar view over the field, chairs, snacks, and drinks. It took a while, but finally, the music started up and we got to enjoy over 5,000 dancers performing several traditional dances including a Tari Linda and Tarian Bhosu.
In the end, the dancers made two formations; one was a pineapple with two dragons, popular symbols for the Buton region, and the other the garuda (mythical bird and logo for Tourism Indonesia) and the words persona buton indonesia.
Afterward was absolute craziness. The rally participants came down to the field and there was dancing and singing and a TON of picture taking. EVERYONE wanted to take a picture with the wisatas (tourists). It got to be overwhelming, we were in such a crowd. Thankfully our team came to the rescue and held hands around us to give us some space and try to prevent non-stop picture taking and posing with cameras. My face hurt from all the smiling for photos!
The buses pulled up and our day was over. We were back at the dock by 6, perfect timing to watch the full moon rise and cook some dinner.
The iNews Indonesian television channel broadcast the festival on live tv. The clips were uploaded in six parts to YouTube. Part 2 has drone footage of the rally boats and an interview with our friends Marce and Jack from Escape Velocity.