Isen Mulang – The Dayak Spirit That Never Die
When the time can be predicted there is only spirit that can shade it apart. That is what we can see at the heart of Borneo as it reached 50 years old, the age which filled with decent values and symbolized with “Isen Mulang”.
Only strong and true spirits that can be a sanctuary for the ancient tradition to stay exist and bond the social culture of Centre Borneo society. The never give up spirit is the meaning of Isen Mulang (in Dayak language) and it is resemble in everyone’s heart who lives in Centre Borneo.
The “extraordinary” Isen Mulang which held at Palangkaraya city on May 19th – 24th was very monumental since it was held at the same moment of Centre Borneo Province anniversary which celebrated on May 23rd. Some events such as convoy, art and culture attraction, traditional and modern sport competition, exhibition, night sale and special entertainment were packed completely for this festival.
The Isen Mulang festival was officially held on the Senaman Mantikei, where the field which become the centre of the festival that exposed the beauty of the convoy. All regencies of the Centre Borneo came to this point to join the spirit of the convoy and with traditional costume marching band the convoy became euphoria of Palangkaraya.
The Greenfield of Dayak
The true spirit of the society of Palangkaraya is limitless, when the sun can’t be seen anymore on the horizon, the festival still continued. The face of this city is changed dramatically into dazzling spot since the chain of lamps of the night sale, city’s development exhibition, various competitions and music performance set the ambience and created an extraordinary night for everyone who joined the festival.
The fireball attraction which performed by professional stunt was simply became an enthusiasm object for people who was on the spot at that night. This game usually played on the football field using a ball which made from a coconut that burned up and it is called “Sepak Sawut” by the local people.
Briefly, the rules of Sepak Sawut adopted from the original football. The difference is players (all players are men) who join the game and dancing with the “fire ball” plays the game without shirt and without shoes. They uses oil, tooth paste or fruit oil to protect their body from the fire and surely it is became an attraction of the night in Palangkaraya.
This extreme game is actually inspired from the religious side of Dayak societies which live with Hindu Kaharingan believe where the fire element of this game is useful to repel the bad spirits and for entertainment. In the ancient times this ritual was held as a part of burial ceremony.
The ambience of Gong is a music which burns the spirit of Sepak Sawut players while their bodies interacts with the fireball whether using foot, hand or other part of the body and pass the ball to other players. This game can be played inside the house as well if the situation on the field is not ideal and once again this is the original game of Dayak society.
The Sharpshooter of Dayak
Satisfied with the fireball game, the next attraction is as hot as before. This is the time for Dayak’s hunters to show off their skills. They are not an ordinary hunters since the skills of Dayak’s hunters applied by the Indonesian Special Forces as combat strategies and this is prove that the skills of the hunters are not a roaring can.
With weapon which made from wooden tube and needle as the bullet that known as Sumpit, the Dayak’s hunters started the attraction and let everyone who came at that time enjoy the tight competition of Menyipet.
The sun heat never ruin down the spirit of the Dayak’s hunters to compete each other and shows to everyone who is the best hunter. All delegates from different regencies and cities across Centre Borneo blended together in Menyipet competition.
With group system competition, each hunter must make a good point with accurate shoots and hit the targets. The highest point only can be reached by the best hunter and shooting range was divided into 2 classes, for men hunters it was 20 m while for women hunters it was 15 m.
The Balogo Pyramid
Still matched with accurate theme, there is another traditional game of Dayak that was performed in the Isen Mulang festival and it is called Balogo. The participants of this game more crowded than the other games since there wasn’t age restriction for this game. The simplicity of the rules is also an explanation why people wanted to play this game. Each team which consist of 3 persons must tear down a logo that formed a mini-pyramid with another logo that made from coconut crane or also popular as “Logo Tanding” (in local language).
To throw up their logo, each player used Wooden Stick or “Campa” which has length about 40 cm from the fixed spot. With maximum time 2 x 15 minutes, players must tear down 3 mini-pyramids logo with their logo. This game represents a symbol of Traditional culture of Indonesia.
The Soul of Kahayan River
Next is the widest river that lies on Palangkaraya city, the Kahayan River looked more shinny as the paddlers splashing the water with their paddle when the boat of 8 persons must compete in speed with other boats to reach the finish line as the winner and it is not surprisingly that the enthusiasm plus spirit of the paddlers while swinging their paddle can be captured by our eyes since this competition is one of the most prestigious competitions and always became the top attraction for the visitors.
The Kahayan River surely also reflecting the extraordinary spirits of the participants and the visitors when other tight competition such as Besei Kambek (Paddlers strength competition on a single boat) and Jukung Hias (Boat Decoration competition) was held on this river as well.
The genuine of ancient values, traditional culture and conservatory mission of the Dayak tribe of Borneo was exposed successfully in Isen Mulang festival for the tourists who came to the place and the Synergy from the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economic of the Republic of Indonesia is absolutely needed to support the never ending spirit of people who lives in the heart of Borneo.
By Hara C.
(Copywriter at Visitingjava.com)