In Indonesia, the 17th of August is not just a normal day, it’s national independence day. Friday, the 17th of August 1945 was the most historical day for all Indonesian people, when Ir. Soekarno proclaimed the Independence of Indonesia. After being under Dutch colonialism for more than three and half centuries and Japanese colonialism for three and half years, the people of Indonesia finally achieved their aspiration to become an independent nation. Because of this, there are a lot of celebrations all over the country today.
For the last couple weeks you will have seen groups of boys and girls practicing for this big day, by marching together through the streets. Formally, Indonesians usually celebrate Independence Day by doing flag ceremonies in schools and offices. Students are gathered in the field wearing uniforms, singing national anthems, praying for the late national heroes and rereading the proclamation text. In the offices similar activities are carried out; both in governmental and private offices workers are gathering to flag ceremonies in front of their offices. After the flag ceremonies, the more informal celebrations start. The Indonesians do all kinds of competitions, like kerupuk (chips) eating, climbing palm trees greased with oil, sack races, getting nailed tied to a string into a bottle and many other party games.
But it is not just about having fun, in addition to being entertaining all the games also have symbolic value and serve as reminder of the time before Indonesia had its independence. For example, eating kerupuk is supposed to remind the Indonesians of how people lived in poverty during the colonisation and climbing the palm tree symbolises the effort it took to gain independence. The competitors are people of all ages, genders, and professions. The young and old, men and women, students and workers, the rich and commoners are all participating.
Houses are decorated in red and white; with the Indonesian flag in front of most houses, schools and offices are also brightly adorned in the red and white colours of Indonesia.
Are you in Bali for Independence day? What was your favourite part?