Friday, May 3, 2013

Tabut - A Cultural Festival

Tabut effigy
Last updated: September 10th, 2019

  Bengkulu has a number of traditions which still continue in Bengkulu people life. One of the cultural assets of Bengkulu is the Tabot/Tabut (an Arabic word which means the coffin) which is an interesting attraction to enrich your cultural experiences particularly to observe one of Indonesian's unique tradition and culture.

Tabot or now is called Tabut festival, the highlight of the Bengkulu people cultural calendar is a colorful and interesting festival, staged at Merdeka square nearby Fort Marlborough. The festival highlights music, traditional and new creation dancing contest, Bengkulu folk song contest, bazaar, telong-telong contest, effigies, and many more at Merdeka square. At the end of the festival the effigies are carried through the streets with much merriment and traditional music, and are finally tossed to the grave of Sheik Burhanuddin.

Tabut festival is held annually from 1st to 10th of the month of Muharram (the first month in the lunar Islamic Calendar). Because the event date is fixed by the lunar Islamic calendar, it moves forward 10-12 days each year. The next Tabut festival will be held from August 20th to 30th 2020.

The festival which takes place at Merdeka/Tugu square to honor and recall the martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Hussein ibn Ali, at the tragic battle of Kerbala-Iraq against Yazid people on 10th of Muharram 61 AH (10th of October 680 AD)

Telong-telong contest
Tabut ceremony originated from the Iraqi Shiite, brought to Bengkulu by the workers (from Madras – India) who were constructing the fort Marlborough for the British East India Company. It is generally believed that the first Tabut ceremony in Bengkulu was carried out by Sheik Burhanuddin (also known as Imam Senggolo) in 1685. Sheik Burhanuddin married a Bengkulu woman, after he passed away the Tabut ceremony was then inherited to their children, including among others those who assimilated with the indigenous Bengkulu inhabitants. This ceremony has been going on for quite a long time, about 3 centuries. Because of the long period, this ceremony is considered as a traditional ceremony of the ethnic of Bengkulu-Malay.

Location: Nearby the Fort Marlborough, across from the Bengkulu city police station.

The effigies are carried through the streets

Photos by Peter Kimball & Sirly Utama Adriansyah

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