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Updated by Joanna James on May 21, 2020
Headline for Festivals in Indonesia to Witness Colour And Tradition – A Brisk Guide
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Festivals in Indonesia to Witness Colour And Tradition – A Brisk Guide

Indonesia is a kaleidoscope of cultures and heritage, so it should not come as a surprise that it has many different festivals that are celebrated by one or many factions and ethnicities of people that make the country their home. Here are five such festivals and when they are held so you could have your camera ready when you visit.

1

Rambu Solo

Rambu Solo is the Sending of Souls to The Afterlife. It is celebrated between July and September every year. It is an important mark in the calendar of the Toraja people in South Sulawesi. It focuses on sending the souls of the dead to the afterlife with many fascinating funeral rites that are observed by the community. Traditionally, a buffalo is sacrificed during these rites as the Toraja people believe that the buffalo will accompany the deceased to the afterlife. Tourists are welcome to observe the proceedings.

2

Nyepi

Nyepi is celebrated in March and commemorates the Balinese New Year. The word Nyepi means "day of silence," and it usually involves meditation, fasting and prayer. People keep their lights out or dimmed, they don't travel around or work on these days. The Balinese airport is closed and the villagers make a doll of bamboo and cloth to represent negativity which they subsequently set on fire.

3

Waisak

This is a festival you will hear a lot about if you are around the Bintan resorts in early May. It is also known as Vesak and is celebrated by Buddhists everywhere in the world. Vesak celebrates the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha. You will find it on the agenda of hotels the likes of Bintan Lagoon Resort, where the resort may organise the release of paper lanterns into the full moon sky.

4

Dieng Culture Festival

Celebrated in August, the Dieng Culture Festival is also called the Dreadlock Shaving Ceremony. What is most fascinating about this festival is that the children of the Dieng plateau have a unique genetic make-up where after reaching puberty, their wavy hair begins to naturally form dreadlocks. These dreadlocks are ritually shaved off in August every year in Java and the families take part in lantern festivals and puppet shows that go well into the night. It is a proper festival atmosphere and tourists are encouraged to join in.

5

Bau Nyale Fishing Festival

During February or March, annually, people descend on Lombok in their hundreds for what is called the Bau Nyale Fishing Festival or Catching the Sea Worm. The Nyale is a type of sea-worm that plays a part in a legend of a princess who drowned in the waters of the Lombok while attempting to escape an arranged marriage. She reincarnates every year in the form of a sea-worm. If one eats this fish, legend says that women will become beautiful and men will become energetic. It is a fascinating festival to watch as thousands of people clamour up and down the waterway with their fishing lines and nets.

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