Sunday, October 28, 2012

Indonesian govt to promote Baduy land as culture tourism center

The local government is developing the Baduy Land into a culture tourism site.

Baduy is populated by about 5,000 to 6,000 isolated Baduy tribesmen, some 40 km southeast of Serang, provincial capital of Banten.

Even though it is closed to the outside world and modern life, the number of visitors, particularly researchers and university students, has increased in recent years.

Up through September 2012, for example, about 5,380 visitors, including foreigners, have come to the Baduy Land, an area which is still covered with virgin forests in a 5,100 hectare land area.

"A total of 158 foreign tourists have visited the Baduy villages and we will continue to build it and develop a cultural tourism site without disturbing the local people`s customs and tradition," Syaifullah Saleh, the head of the Culture and Tourism Service of the Regional Government of Lebak District, said on Friday.

Actually, the land of the Baduy tribe in Lebak District is a separate world which blends fertile earth, virgin forests, clear water, clean air and an unpolluted environment. 

The Baduy Land is free from pollution and separated from the bustle of big cities such as Bandung and Jakarta, even though Banten, where Lebak District is located, shares borders with these modern cities.

Syaifullah said that at present, the local government of Lebak District seeks to develop the Baduy Land as a reliable cultural tourism destination. Most of the recent visitors were secondary and university students who came to study nature conservation and cultural systems of the local people.

He said that the uniqueness of the local people`s lives is in their maintaining tradition and customs, while rejecting modern life. They live in a forest area covering about 5,100 hectares and have built no roads, have no electricity, do not have radio or television and reject the use of motorized vehicles.

Even, in the Baduy Dalam (the interior of Baduy Land) residents, usually clad in white clothing, when traveling to other regions have to go on foot and are not allowed to use public transportation.

Therefore, Syaifullah said, many anthropologists come to the Baduy Land to conduct research, since members of the Baduy tribes maintain a very modest life, though they never experience food shortages.

The Baduy build wooden houses, walled with plaited bamboos. Their forests produce all the materials they need to construct their homes. There is no need to buy cement, tiles, bricks and other modern housing materials. 

They live a simple life based upon a primitive agricultural system and firmly maintain the values of their traditions.

"We are of the view that these values have high selling points for promoting them as tourism objects," Syaifullah said.

He added that most of this year`s 158 foreign tourists came from European countries, such as the Netherlands, Britain and Switzerland. "We need to promote this so that the local people�s economy could be boosted," he added.

Local tourists visiting Baduy Land for cultural tours of the region came from Jakarta, Bogor, Tangerang, Bandung, Yogyakarta and other areas, he said.

Sapin, the secretary of Kanekes village, Leuwidamar subdistrict, said that visitors to the Baduy Land mostly were university students, researchers or those coming from government and private institutions, while the number of family members who visited the region was still small.

He said that the land trip from Serang, Banten`s provincial capital, to Ciboleger, known as the gate to the `holy land` of Baduy, could be covered in one hour. The distance is about 22 km from Serang, Banten`s provincial capital.

"At present, the condition of roads from Serang to Ciboleger is relatively good," he said.

"We are convinced that cultural and customs visits to the Baduy Land will increase in the future," Sapin added.

In the meantime, Social Affairs Minister Salim Segaf Al Jufri, who visited the isolated tribe last week, said lessons must be learned from the isolated Baduy tribes, particularly in their success in preserving the environment. 

The minister said that the Baduy people abide by their tribal wisdom, which serves as the basis for conserving nature. They also have a commitment to maintaining their customs, which are integrated into nature, so that natural disasters could be prevented.

"We have to learn a lesson from the Baduy tribes living in the valleys of Mount Kendeng. We have never heard that the Baduy people are suffering from famine. They really protect the environment as a source of their life," the minister said when he came to the region to provide social assistance.

Basically, Baduys are closed to the outside world so they might uphold their cultural and spiritual values.

They believe that Kanekes, the holy land of Baduy, is the center of Baduy Land and that it is holy, and foreign influences must be avoided to maintain this holiness. Tribal lore states that the creation of the earth started in Kanekes. The genesis occurred in Sasaka Domas of Kanekes, the most sacred place in Baduy.

From here, the seven Batara descended to earth to become the ancestors of human beings. The Baduy are their direct descendants.

The sacred land of Kanekes is divided into three areas, comprising the Tangtu, the highest level, Penamping, the middle level, and the Dangka, which is the least holy.

Those who live in Tangtu are called the Baduy Dalam and follow the most stringent traditions and taboos.

In Penamping are found the Baduy Luar, who are also governed by their customs, which are not as strict as the Baduy Dalam living in Tangtu. In Dangka live the descendants of the Baduy who have managed to adapt to the outside world.

Tangtu consists of three villages, Cibeo, Cikartawana and Cikeusik, each of which has a `Puun` or influential king or tribal chief. The Puun from Cikeusik are the most highly respected.

The Puun spreads the teachings of their ancestors in preserving their traditions, ways of life and in caring for nature as the source of life.

"I think the Land of Baduy is a `state` without famine. But we are visiting this community to hear their aspirations. Though they are free from famine, we are committed to providing them with assistance," the minister said. (Antara)

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