The island of Lombok in the West Nusa Tenggara Province will once again celebrate the age-old tradition of Bau Nyale, a folk festival that celebrates the annual appearance of the Nyale sea worms when hordes of people flock to the sea to catch these rare creatures. This year celebrations will be centered along Seger Beach at Lombok’s Kuta village in the Pujut district on 16th to 17th February 2017.
This unique tradition is held annually on the 20th day of the 10th month in 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.
For the people on the beautiful island of Lombok, the Bau Nyale Festival is an age-old tradition that is closely linked to the legend of Princess Mandalika.
According to local legend, Princess Mandalika of the Tunjung Beru kingdom was very beautiful. Her father, King Seg held a contest for young men to fight for his daughter’s hand in marriage. However, Mandalika herself was opposed to fighting and bloodshed between kingdoms in her name. So she plunged herself into the sea, advising the community in Lombok to live in peace and promised to return on the 20th day of the 10th month in the Sasak calendar. On that long-awaited day, only the glowing Nyale worms could be seen everywhere in the sea and so the people believe that the worms are the reincarnation of Princess Mandalika.
Bau Nyale is a tradition of Lombok residents living along the south coast of the island to catch nyale worms, particularly by those who follow the Wetu telu faith. The ceremony is indeed quite unique. Nyale appears once a year at Kuta beach and Seger beach normally around February during the rainy season. They appear for two to three nights only, precisely at the time before dawn. Although the elders always say that they can predict precisely the appearance of the worms, but most of the time the predictions miss by one day, sometimes even by a week.
Until today, communities on Lombok believe that when a person is able to catch these worms, they will bring good luck in their life. Following the legend, a woman can become as beautiful as Mandalika when she eats the worms, while men will be blessed with vigor. The Nyale worms can be eaten raw or cooked. On the eve of the festival, people usually perform rites privately in their own homes.
The highlight of the ceremony occurs when the local priest or the Dukun wades into the sea to observe the spawning of Nyale and predicts the future rice harvest, based on the number of sea worms. A good catch is a sign that this year’s rice harvest will also be good. Nyale is thus traditionally associated with fertility and forms part of a solemn ceremony. For this purpose the sea worms are ground and placed in irrigation channels around fields to help ensure a good harvest.
This year, the festival will also be highlighted with a range of activities such as the Princess Mandalika Beauty Pageant, A Cultural Seminar, Traditional Horse Race Competition, Mandalika 10K Running Competition, annd a Products and Culinary Bazaar. There will also be a Cultural Parade, Art and Cultural Performances, the Princess Mandalika Colossal Play, a Musical Show, and a whole lot more.
Images by www.wisatadilombok.com