Monday, 21 January 2008

Tabot Ceremony, Padang West Sumatera Indonesia.


The Tabot Ceremony
Photo and Text by: Barry Kusuma

When Hussein, grandchild of Prophet Muhammad, slained at Karbala Field by the army of Yazid bin Muawiyah from Ummayah dynasty, it has left a deep scar in history for the world’s Moslem people. In Pariaman, West Sumatera, the event was annually remembered by conducting a ceremony called Tabuik.

It’s originated from the word ‘tabut’. It was an Arabic language which means “to carry”. The ceremony was a tradition of certain people in the west coastal area of West Sumatra which has been passed on generations. The ceremony was held on the day of the Asura which dated on 10th Muharram in the Islamic calendar.

Symbol of Grief
It was said that Tabuik brought by a Syiah believer from the Middle East to Pariaman. It was a token of Karbala war. Tabuik was also a symbol and expression of grief as well as honoring the Great Prophet Muhammad’s grandchild, Hussein. Due to its uniqueness and merryness each time the event took place, local government has included the ceremony in local annual tourism agenda.

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Two weeks before Tabuik, citizen of Pariaman are busy with preparation. They made several foods, cookies of various kind, and a Tabuik. Some even go on a feast to complete the ritual.
The name Tabuik was also used by one of the most important component in this event. Tabuik is made of bamboo and has a horse with human head shaped with wings on the back. Moslems called it Buraq, considered as a holy animal. At the back of Tabuik, a 15 meter pole was put. Tabuik then given colors before the people get to carry through out the city.

On the destined day, Pariaman city would be crowded by participants and spectators from 06.00 AM. Everyone gathered at the city’s center. While others gathered at the side of the road to see how the ceremony turned out. Local government officials also come to see this most colossal ceremony in West Sumatra.

When the time comes, Tabuik started to be lifted and the carnival started. One Tabuik was lifted by 40 people! Behind them, were a group of people with traditional clothing carrying percussion such as drums. They were properly walking in line. All participants would shout “Hayya Hussain! Hayya Hussain!”, along the way to show their respect for the Great Prohet’s grandchild. Once in a while, the carnival stoped and several men were performing traditional Minang’s martial art moves accompanied by the sound of percussions.

When the sun sets, the carnival ends. Both Tabuik were brought to the sea shore and released to the open sea. Many people believed by doing so would also “throw away” their bad luck. It was also a moment where most people believed as the timefor the Buraq to come home along with all the offerings.

Compared to the previous Tabuik which was held every decade, the Tabuik as we know was very much different. In the past, Tabuik were made by two different groups. And then they would fight. What usually happens is the fight grew into fight between the two groups, not only their Tabuik.

Unique Cultural Attraction
Nowadays, the violent element has been dismantled. The attraction was directed to be more of a cultural attraction for tourists. Aside the attraction, tourists can also make their way through multiple stands along side the carnival. You should get yourself some salaluk and rakik maco, Pariaman’s specialty foods you can find easily near the beach.Unfortunately, the Tabuik ceremony hasn’t been directed properly, especially in terms of funding.

This year’s Tabuik celebration would be held on February. The event was almost canceled. The local government had already announced it in the mass media. Luckilly the people of Pariaman were very determined and so the Tabuik could continue its annual tradition for us to see.

Photo & Text by Barry Kusuma

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