Mon, 15 Aug 1994

Kraton festival opens in Yogya amid great fanfare

JAKARTA (JP): A grand and colorful festival involving seven royal houses of Java was opened in Yogyakarta on Saturday.

The cheery opening ceremony of the Kraton Festival took place on the city's northern square and attracted throngs of locals and foreign tourists.

The week-long festival, the third of its kind, is being participated in by the kraton (royal houses) of Kraton Nyayogyakarta Hadiningrat and Pura Pakualaman (both of Yogyakarta), Mangkunegaran and Kasunanan (both of Surakarta or popularly called Solo), and Kasepuhan, Kanoman and Katjirebonan (all from the West Java town of Cirebon). The festival is said to be the biggest ever held in this city which is known as a center of Javanese culture.

The committee will also hold an exhibition of kraton relics, a gamelan music concert, a show of traditional fashion from Surakarta, an art market and several other cultural activities, Antara reported.

Dignitaries present at the ceremony, which was opened by Coordinating Minister for Political Affairs and Security Soesilo Soedarman, included cabinet ministers, the governors of Central Java, Yogyakarta and West Java and members of the diplomatic corps from Jakarta.

Before opening the festival, Minister Soesilo (in left photo) inspected all the participating royal troops from an ancient carriage. All the soldiers wore traditional uniforms complete with spears, keris (traditional daggers) and ancient rifles.

The opening ceremony was followed by a parade, called kirab ageng, of 1,600 soldiers of the ancient royal houses, dozens of cavaliers and 14 carriages representing the seven kraton.

They marched along a 15-kilometer route around the ancient fortress of the Yogyakarta sultanate which was lined by an enthusiastic crowd which numbered into the thousands.

Sultan Hamengkubuwono X of Yogyakarta said at the ceremony that the festival is a means of preserving local cultures.

He hoped the festival would spur people's creativity. The sultan said the festival is included in the city's tourism agenda. (tis)