Lombok, Bau Nyale Festival

Written by on July 6, 2012 in Nusa Tenggara Festivals with 0 Comments

Lombok, Bau Nyale Festival

Bau-Nyale--01

Bau Nyale Festival Bau Nyale in Sasak’s language means “catching the worm”. This festival is the most popular, among various festivals held in the island. Annelida. Image credit Nyale is rare variety of tropical Palolo sea worm (Eunice viridis) in the family of annelida. This worm is unique because of its color. Unlike ordinary worm, nyale’s color is varied from pale cream to read, orange and green. Once a year, in the right seasonal, marine and lunar condition (usually in the full moon of February or March), the nyale will come to certain beaches in Lombok for a few days to spawn. The coming of nyale is marked by the appearance of Pleiades stars near Orion constellation in the sky. During this time, the colossal worm-catching festival is held in the colorful sea. Kuta Beach of Lombok. Image credit. The only two beaches visited by nyale are Seger and Kuta Beach of Lombok. The festive moods can be felt several days before the festival, when the Sasaks start building camps on the beach 3 days before the nyale come. Exactly on the night when the moon is full, thousands of Sasaks gather on the seashore. The hunting is carried out at dawn, when the sea abates. Whilst waiting for the dawn, the Sasaks recite traditional verses known as “pantun”. Each verse has two couplets. The first couplet suggests the next. Young people compete to form verses. A boy will sing his verses to a girl. The girl must then answer by singing verses of her own. This competition allows young people to flirt and tease with each other which in former days often lead to courtship. The Sasaks also play traditional music and perform traditional dance. Image credit At around 2.30 AM, crowds are allowed to go into the water. No one knows exactly when the nyale will appear, so everyone takes position and hopes in excitement to be the first catcher of the worms. Some people hold their torches high, trying to scan the ocean. Once the worms appear, thousands of people, scoop them with their nets, buckets, and even shirts and bare hands. They use anything to catch as many worms as possible. They believe that the more they catch the better will their rice harvest be. A traditional priest will enter the water too to predict the future harvest on the island based on the number of the catch. If the catch is good the harvest will be good too. By this time, the sight of the beachfront is so colorfully beautiful. Nyale hunting. Image credit After the hunting, Sasak teenagers, boys and girls sail out to sea in a procession of colorful boats with lots of noise and laughter. Local boat. Image credit Some worms are brought to the land to be placed in irrigation channels and on paddy field or to be used as fertilizer to ensure good harvest. The rest of the catch is then cooked and served as special annual feast. The worms contain high protein and are believed to have aphrodisiac properties. Some people eat raw worm as soon as it is caught, but most of the worms are fried, steamed or made into soup and crackers. The worms can also be wrapped in a banana leaf together with coconut and spices and then roasted over the fire. 

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