Sat, 13 May 2000

Highlanders will gather here again after two year absence

JAKARTA (JP): Organizers of this year's Jakarta Highland Gathering estimated that some 10,000 people will attend the event at Pelita Harapan School compound Lippo Karawaci, a 30 minute drive west from Jakarta.

The famous Scottish summer gathering, to be held on May 28, is coming back after two years due to the prolonged economic hardships, which also caused security uncertainties.

"This year's gathering will hopefully return other countries' trust in Indonesia. We couldn't organize the feast in 1998 and 1999 due to security concerns but it returns this year," British Ambassador to Indonesia Robin Christopher told a media conference at his residence on Jl. Teuku Umar.

"Jakarta has always seen the gathering as part of its varied cultural life," he added.

The tradition originated in Scotland's Highland eastern region of Braes of Mar in the 11th century. It was a meeting of all Scottish clans and evolved into an important function in the 17th century.

Highlights of the gathering include the pipe bands, dancing, tug-of-war and other 'heavy' events, such as caber tossing and hammer hurling.

Jakarta, home to some 1,000 Scottish families, saw the first Highland Gathering in 1975. The upcoming 2000 Jakarta Highland Gathering will be the 24th event.

Gathering chairman, Gordon G. Benton, dubbed the event as a gathering for the family.

"There will be 87 events in the one-day fiesta for all members of the family. It will start at 7:30 a.m. and go until 6:30 p.m. when a large fireworks display tops it all off at the end of the day," he said.

Benton, estate manager of Lippo Karawaci, said the gathering was also important in that it would demonstrate Indonesia was a safe and stable place.

"The event will be a sign to foreigners that the conditions here aren't that bad. We expect 10,000 people will join the gathering either as participants or spectators," he said.

"There will be some 600 foreigners coming to the gathering. It's small but it's an important gesture," he added.

He also said the gathering might be the largest social function available where locals can mix with expatriates.

"There will be, for instance, pipe bands from Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam and Australia.

The entrance ticket for adults is Rp 20,000 (US$2.5) and Rp 10,000 for children of 5 to 15 years old. Younger children are free to enter. Participants wearing costumes who have sponsors are required to pay Rp 50,000 per team. (nvn)