Monday, January 12, 2015

Bau Nyale: The Sea Worms Festival on the island of Lombok

The island of Lombok in the West Nusa Tenggara Province will once again celebrate the age-old tradition of Bau Nyale or catching the Sea Worms Festival in the forthcoming month. This year, following a meeting of the council of government officials, traditional community leaders and keepers of the four cardinal directions, the event will be held from 9th to 10th February 2015and centered at Seger Beach, Pujut District, Central Lombok Regency. The unique tradition will also take place in several other beaches on the island at  Selong Belanak, Kuta, and Aan Beach.

This year the tradition will also be highlighted with numerous exciting activities such as Traditional Horse race, Cultural Parade,Presean, and more. As a special treat, the Central Lombok Regency also plans to invite one of Indonesia’s top music bands “Noah” to entertain the crowd at this year's festival.

The Sasak people of Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara celebrate this special ritual annually, on the 20th day of the 10th month on the traditional Sasak Calendar, which falls around February each year.  Bau in the Lombok language means “to-catch” and Nyale is a type of sea worm that surfaces only around this time of the year. Therefore, Bau Nyale is the festive ceremony when large crowds catch the Nyale along a number of Lombok’s finest beaches.

The festival will not only involve the local Sasak communities, but also local government officials, tourists and observers who are welcome to join in the celebrations.

The locals believe, that the Nyale are not just regular sea worms, but are considered as sacred creatures that bring prosperity to those who respect them, or misfortune to those who ignore them. This belief is based on a legend of princess Mandalika.

Legend has it that back in Lombok’s heydays, there lived a beautiful princes (s named Mandalika. Stories about her beauty reached every corner of the island; so that many princes fell in love with her and were eager to wed her. Competing to win her, they created an upheaval throughout the island. Seeing this, the princess was saddened and longed for peace in the land. To end the chaos, Princess Mandalika threw herself into the sea. Her people tried to rescue her body, but found instead an abundance of sea worms, known today as Nyale. Thus, Nyale are believed to be the reincarnation of Princess Mandalika. To this day the Nyale appear once a year on the beach, and are believed to be  the once beautiful princess who pays a visit to her people.

The Nyale festival is also known on the neighboring island of Sumba, where the ceremony is followed by the Pasola Jousting Festival. (Indonesia.travel)

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