Bali’s buffalo racers conflict to keep tradition alive

AFP/Banjar Jembrana

Wearing crowns and charming horn coverings, a buffaloes transport wooden carts during high speed past paddy fields on Bali, with a racers aboard enormous whips in a bid to lift their beasts on to victory.
Hundreds of spectators hearten from a sidelines, anticipating their group will come out on tip in a annual festival on a Indonesian island suggestive of chariot racing.
The buffalo racing, famous as “Makepung”, pits dual tillage communities opposite any other in western Jembrana district, in a tradition that outlines a rice harvesting season.
A universe divided from a renouned traveller hangouts serve south on a island, a races are an grand philharmonic that see participants mount on speeding carts with flags whipping from a top, as dual buffaloes lift any of a easy vehicles.
But a races, that have been hold annually for decades, are descending out of foster — unchanging competitors are now aged and few of a younger villagers are penetrating to take adult a sport.
“I am aged now, and there is no new generation,” pronounced Kadek Nuraga, 51, who has been racing for a West Ijo Gading encampment for over 35 years.
“Many of a comparison racers would like to retire, some are already over 60, though they simply don’t have many choice. Somebody needs to safety a tradition.”
Nowadays younger people tend to leave Jembrana once they have reached adolescence in hunt of improved preparation in cities, and encampment elders protest that those who stay are some-more meddlesome in personification video games than a high-speed buffalo races.
One of Nuraga’s sons, now aged 27, has already left his village, and he is training his neighbour’s teenage son during a weekends so he can take adult a reins of a foe in a future.
But training a good aspirant takes time and a comparison a aspirant gets, a easier it is for him to tumble off a speeding cart, pronounced Makepung arch organiser Made Mara.
Some maestro racers have even died after acrobatics off speeding carts. There is such a shortfall of people wanting to take partial some teams are carrying to sinecure racers, pronounced Komang Hendra, Jembrana tourism chief.
But this costs 100,000 rupiah ($7.50) per race, a large sum in a nation where many acquire a homogeneous of dual to 3 dollars a day.
Still for many Jembrana residents a investment is inestimable due to a intensity financial gain.
The standard esteem income for any event of a Makepung foe is 25mn rupiah ($1,900) though that is separate among a whole winning team, mostly done adult of 1-200 people.
But a value of a span of winning animals tends to soar on a internal marketplace and some can strech prices of 175mn rupiah.
The Makepung tradition started in a 1960s when dual communities on possibly side of a Ijo Gading stream took a rival proceed to operative their fields, with farmers racing any other as they laboured.
What started off as a bit of fun developed into a critical foe and now a communities margin teams any year for a racing season.
The deteriorate runs from Jul to November, with races roughly any fortnight, and this year concerned about 300 H2O buffaloes.
The competitors from a West Ijo Gading group dress in immature and accoutre their carts with immature flags, while those from a East Gading Team use a colour red.
A foe day customarily lasts about 5 hours, with countless races that any typically see one transport from any encampment hurtling down a lane that measures about 1,500 metres (5,000 feet). There are 4 categories, with buffaloes deemed a fastest in a initial category.
One of a communities is announced a leader during a finish of a day’s racing.
While a foe does not captivate tourists in a same numbers as Bali’s palm-fringed beaches, any foe day customarily attracts foreigners, in further to many locals.
For many Jembranese, a financial gains are only a reward and a genuine captivate is a prestige.
“It’s not indeed winning a esteem that matters — there’s a certain honour and status if we win Makepung,” pronounced tourism arch Hendra.

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