Indonesian people seize every possible opportunity to celebrate their culture.
On Bali every new day brings a festive Hindu ceremony, and if your timing is right,
you can attend a beach festival on nearly every Indonesian island.
Add to that the countless local happenings involving clans and villages lining up against each other - buffalo races, tribal war rituals, traditional canoeing contests, you name it -
and it's easy to get lost in a wealth of unique events.
We selected the most exotic, the most primitive, the most spiritual ... festivals,
in short: the very best Indonesia has to offer.
In Bali, Nyepi announces a new year on the Hindu calendar. This holiday requires total silence of every inhabitant of Bali. There are no cars in the streets and all shops are closed. All human activity, including the use of electricity, is forbidden
so that Bali's inhabitants can focus on meditation and reflect on the events of the past year.
On the days leading up to the festival, beach processions are held all over the island and colourful ogoh-ogoh are paraded through the streets and burnt at midnight.
After this bustling four-day purification ritual,
Bali is ready to welcome the new year on Nyepi, the Day of Silence.
The Pasola is a fertility rite practiced by the horsemen of West Sumba at the start of the rice planting season. To appease ancestral spirits, two groups of over 50 men from opposing tribal villages line up on horseback to draw blood by throwing wooden spears at their opponents.
The Rato, a local shaman, starts proceedings by praying in between both groups.
After he throws the first spear to start the ritual, the horse riders begin the war
and throw their spears over and again.
The exact date of the ceremony is usually announced by the Rato
one or two weeks before the event. It falls two weeks after a full moon,
in February and again in March.
Baliem Valley Festival
The Baliem Valley is a place where penis gourds or koteka are still in fashion, pigs can buy you love and the hills bloom with flowers and deep purple sweet-potato fields.
Every August you can witness this festival of West Papua's diverse indigenous cultures in the town of Wamena. Dressed in distinctive attire, the local Dani, Yali and Lani tribes all gather in a spectacular celebration of fertility and prosperity. A unique opportunity to interact with these tough but sweet spirited people, and bear witness as they stage battles,
perform traditional music, dance and enjoy pig roast feasts.
Cap Go Meh
Cap Go Meh celebrates the first full moon after Imlek, the Chinese New Year. On the 14th day of the lunar calendar the moon shines its light on a solemn lantern parade. The morning after, festivities erupt in a perfect storm of tatung,
spectacular trance rituals meant to repel evil spirits in the year to come.
The top location to witness this event is Singkawang in Western Kalimantan, a city famed for its fine ceramics, and home to one of our biggest ethnic Chinese communities.
Also dubbed the Vesak festival, Waisak is a holy day observed traditionally by Buddhists all over Asia. In Indonesia, thousands of Buddhist worshippers flock to the majestic Borobudur temple complex in Yogyakarta to celebrate the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha.
Waisak falls on a full moon in the 5th or 6th lunar month -
usually in April or May on the Gregorian calendar.
From Java to the Moluccas, music flows through the veins of our people.
Foreign percussionists regularly visit the music institutes
to study intricate rhythmic patterns from the Indonesian masters.
Because so much talent deserves a very, very big stage, each March again Jakarta organizes the largest jazz and fusion festival in Asia. At Java Jazz the best national and international talent meet up for a week long clash of jazz styles and world music jams.