The 2012 Tabuik Festival will open in Pariaman, West Sumatra, on Thursday.
Pariaman Tourism and Culture Agency head Tundra Laksamana said on Sunday that the upcoming festival would last 10 days and culminated in the closing event on Nov. 25.
A tabuik is a 13-meter statue of a bouraq, a mythological steed with broad wings, a woman’s face and a broad tail. On its back is an ornate coffin and above it and beside decorative umbrellas. The statue has paper flowers on either side.
During the festival, two tabuik are paraded across town and thrown into the sea on the final day.
The annual festival is held to commemorate Asyura Day, or the death of Imam Hosein, Prophet Muhammad's grandson and the third imam of Shia who was killed during the Battle of Kerbala.
It has been a staple event in Pariaman since 1831, when it was introduced by Shiite Muslims from Sepoy, India.
Despite its origin, a tabuik rite has become not simply a religious ceremony but also Pariaman's main tourist attraction. Pariaman, a small town with a predominantly Sunni Muslim population of 72,399, is associated with tabuik-related tourism.
“This festival now has nothing to do with Shia; it is a cultural event linked to tourism,” Tundra said (Jakarta Post)