Sun, 13 Jul 2003

Taking pride of place

Shared pride and joy emanated from the faces of hundreds of women and men gathered at Lake Toba as they sang their "national anthems", the folk songs Martabe, O Tano Batak (The Land of Batak) and Tao Nauli (Beautiful Lake).

It was Thursday's opening of the four-day Pesta Rakyat Danau Toba (Lake Toba People's Festival) at the biggest lake in the country, located in Parapat subdistrict, North Sumatra.

The choir reflected the spirit of unity between the Batak subgroups: Simalungun, Toba, Pakpak (Dairi) and Karo. And the feeling of togetherness was reflected in the lake, its vast expanse visible from the five regencies of North Tapanuli, Toba Samosir, Simalungun, Dairi and Karo.

On the theme of Kembalikan Danau Tobaku (Give Back My Lake Toba), it was aimed at building up Batak culture at its roots and also showing that it is not only Bali that is worthy of visitors.

The festival featured a wide range of arts and sports activities, such as the ancient dance Tortor Sawan, traditional martial art of marmonsak and the Solu Bolon canoe competition.

The festival also presented the traditional opera Operete Arga Da Bona Nipinasa, telling about a successful Toba man who returns from abroad to help develop his hometown. With a cast of 232 artists, the opera broke the record for the largest performance in the Indonesian Record Museum (MURI).

Unfortunately, rain drenched the arena on the second day, causing several events to be canceled or delayed. Toward the evening, the rain ceased and more people came to see the free entertainment. The excitement reemerged as the festivities continued. For all those in attendance, the message was Horas! (warm greetings) -- JP