By Mohamad Hajazi

As many as 20 respected figures of the Indigenous Peoples of Sasak gathered at the Indigenous Krame Council Secretariat in Sengkol Village, Pujut District, Central Lombok Regency, West Nusa Tenggara. The respected figures, including cultural activists, cultural practitioners, Indigenous elders, and Indigenous functionaries, attended a ceremony called Sangkep Warige.

The Indigenous Peoples of Sasak hold Sangkep Warige to determine the day and date of the Bau Nyale ritual. To do so, they try to connect all natural phenomena using the traditional astronomical knowledge of the Indigenous Peoples of Sasak.

"Nyale" refers to a kind of sea worm which, according to the Indigenous Peoples of Sasak, is the embodiment of a just and wise princess called Princess Mandalike.

The Sangkep Warige ceremony began with the recitation of the Holy Quran. After Dita Putra performed an opening song, there came the main event: the time travel explanation based on the tenggale star position. The traditional astronomical study always follows the equator and natural phenomena in Pujut.

Indigenous functionaries must first affirm the validity of the study before the Sangkep Warige forum could agree on a date for the Bau Nyale ritual in 2022. The Sangkep Warige was then closed with a prayer by Kiyai Ratne.

L. Saladin, one of the respected figures in Pujut, said that Sangkep Warige had always been carried out by the Indigenous Peoples of Sasak, particularly those living in Pujut, as a form of cultural preservation.

"This is part of the ancestral culture that has been the tradition of the [Indigenous Peoples of] Sasak," Saladin said after attending the Sangkep Warige ceremony on Thursday (6/1/2022).

Saladin explained that all respected figures who were present in the Sangkep Warige gave their accounts based on the study of time travel or, referring to the rowot traditional calendar system, the time when the tenggale star was perpendicular to our standing position on earth. That time would fall on the 19th or 20th day of the 10th month in the Sasak calendar.

The day would usually be marked with some natural signs, including the emergence of mushrooms in rice fields, the blooming of the kentalun flowers, and the growth of bamboo shoots.

"Those are the signs that Bau Nyale is coming," said Saladin.

Saladin said that, based on the analysis of the elders, Bau Nyale would fall on Sunday, February 20, 2022, as the day when the search would start (bojak day) and on Monday, February 21, 2022, as the day when the nyale would "spill".

Lalu Kesuma Jayadi, an Indigenous youth in Pujut, said the Sangkep Warige ceremony represented the Indigenous Peoples' love of tradition and culture. Jayadi said that all elements of the Indigenous Peoples, including the Indigenous elders and Indigenous youths, took part in the Sangkep Warige ceremony to determine the day and date of the Bau Nyale.

"The involvement of the youths in this Indigenous event is crucial to ensure that our ancestral knowledge can keep being passed on [to the next generation]," Jayadi said.

Jayadi said that all the Indigenous youths must play an active role in the existing traditional and cultural activities. That way, he said, those activities would never go extinct. Tradition and culture, which are part of the Indigenous Peoples' identity, must be preserved, he went on.

"Sangkep Warige is one of the traditions that are still being preserved, and it has been a forum for collective recommendation regarding the Bau Nyale ritual implementation," said Jayadi.

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The writer is a citizen journalist from West Nusa Tenggara.

Tag : Bau Nyale Sangkep Warige Mohamad Hajazi Sasak