Speak Out: Indonesian Thanksgiving ( Tasyakuran)

11:11 AM

I love American thanksgiving. That is one of my favorite holiday of the year, with all the big turkey, delicious foods, people gather together, cute cousins ( Libbee, and Rilee), cute Silvia and also the gratitude that you feel after you give thanks to God. On American thanksgiving, I used to go up to PreSQUE Isle ( 10 MIN from Canada) and spent about a week with my grampy and grammy there. Then my gram would make my favorite dish, GREEN BEAN CASEROULE ( the yummiest thing in the entire world, it beats my favorite kwetiauw and chocolate). On the thanksgiving day, we would gather around on the big big table, gave thanks, and chatted.

Here, in Indonesia, we also celebrate thanksgiving. An event what we called “tasyakuran”. Instead of a family gathering, this tasyakuran is a mass gathering. The whole neighborhood participate and enjoy this tasyakuran. A few days ago, Menanggal village had this event. I was so surprised because this event held very near to my boardinghouse. The people gathered just outside, and I gather along with the crowd. FUN! Hehehe Indonesia is full of culture. They are truly interesting, and you wont find this kind of culture in the other country.  
This “tasyakuran” is combined with “bersih desa”. Bersih desa is a traditional ritual, where people cast away bad energies and satan from their village. It sounds so superstitious, but yes, Indonesian still believe in satan, ghost, genies, and occult. This belief is manifestated in this interesting ritual. Nowadays, the ritual is not as creepy as before. It is more like a parade now. It is a lot more fun!

Here people gather around, they bring a sacrifice, as u can see below, there is banana, eggplant, cakes. And people dressed up  traditionally. There are also people who dressed up in a frightening outfit. They symbolize the satan and all the “bad things”.

This woman with a creepy face and black dress symbolized the bad energies.

This woman symbolize prosperity and gratitude because of the good harvest. She rides becak, our traditional transportation. 

To cast away the BAD energy, people use a ritual that is called REOG. The reog itself has a  interesting story and philosophy behind. They also see traditional wayang kulit the whole night. Other things, in this parade people dressed up and use ancient bike. They call themselves “ Paguyuban Sepeda Onthel” They dressed up as a dutch ( because dutch colonized Indonesia long time ago), an indonesian soldier, and they also wear traditional clothes. Hehehe these people are awesome, they preserve our traditional transportation and history. Two thumbs up for them.

Other than that, we also have girls, women,and even oldies participate and wear kebaya. I saw a grammy, dressed up as a witch. And a beautiful lady dressed up as a peasant.

Hehehe the other interesting part is the MUSIC. The music is traditional, they play gamelan, and percussion. Guess who play this kind of music? YOUTH and CHILDREN. Woooo.. I see some light of hope here. I always very sad because our traditional art has been fading away. Because now aday youth loves pop culture more. But seeing them play our traditional music so well and how they enjoy it, I see that our traditional culture has a hope to stay wellknown and loved by Indonesian people.

 I heard a lot of people talk about how sad they are because Indonesian culture is fading away. But, when I asked them to learn traditional arts, they politely refuse. When I asked them how much they appreciate cultural art, I can tell that they know little and appreciate none. I even experienced bad times, when I dance, people made fun of me because I am chinese and I dance traditional Javanese dance. Some people even judge traditional dance and cultural arts as outdated and boring. Hmm, no wonder now why our traditional cultural art is fading. Because most of us talk only and do nothing.

Tasyakuran is what I called an ACTION. Even if we live in Surabaya, a metropolitan and modern city. People in Menanggal still very confident to held this kind of event. They spend money to lend traditional costumes. They dance, once every week the youth and kids gather together, they learn how to play gamelan and traditional percussion. AWESOME. All people participate and have fun together. This is very good, since a way to love or traditional arts is to have fun with it.

I truly encourage the government to held this event more often. Make it regularly, make it a yearly event. I believe if we have a lot of cultural event, it will increase our selling point as a tourism city. We can truly “sell” our culture as a strong point to consider when tourists visit Surabaya. Tourist, especially, international tourist, they love love love to see cultural arts and how Indonesian people actually live. That is why Bali has so much tourists,that is because they preserve their culture.
If the tourist wants to shop. They can go to Singapore, Hongkong, Macau, and those cities with big flashy malls and department store. But, for culture tourism? I hope they choose Indonesia. We have 280 tribes and 300 language across Indonesia. Its tribes has their own culture and traditional arts. Don’t let it fade away! Preserve it. It is our natural and latent strength as a country. The government should worry more about making cultural event rather than building malls to attract tourist. Every country can build malls, man! But culture and traditional arts? They are ours, uniquely us, and a heritage to make Indonesia prosper.

If you are parents, please encourage your kid to participate in this kind of event. Encourage them to learn traditional arts. If you have a daughter and want them to learn dance. Ask them to go and learn traditional. I want to tell you my experience ya, I am a dancer, and I have been learning a lot of kind of dance ranging from ballet, traditional, hiphop, korean pop, and coreography. And I love traditional the most! If you kids learn traditional, they can be as flexible and graceful as ballet dancer. Don`t worry.
Moreover, when they learn about traditional dance, their nationalism increase, they will learn a lot of philosohy about Indonesian woman. Don’t you love it if you daughter grow as a graceful lady, respect the elders, strong, passionate, modest, and also has a good etiquette? That is the philosophy of indonesian woman, and they can learn that through the dance. One more thing about learning traditional dance is that you can “brag” about it when you study overseas. When they ask me to perform in events, I will choose to dance a traditional dance. Because it truly defines me as an Indonesian. People overseas are used to ballet, hip hop, and korean pop, but traditional dance is unique for them.
If you are a teenagers and youth. It is not too late to appreciate our Indonesian cultural arts now. If you feel shy to learn how to dance, and perform arts, you can watch others when they are performing. You can also participate as a committee in a cultural event. Together, we can preserve Indonesian cultural arts J

Love, hana


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