Sulawesi, Maulid Nabi Festival, Cikoang, Takalar
Maulid Nabi, or Mawlid, is a festival held to celebrate the birth of the prophet Muhammad and in Indonesia, has evolved into a celebration of sharing and the exchange of gifts – in particular, decorated eggs and other small items. The small village of Cikoang has taken this simple idea one step further, and hosts an annual celebration that is now famous across southern Sulawesi. The Cikoang Maulid Nabi is unique because it brings together villagers from both the offshore islands and the land, and the sharing of gifts between the two groups has evolved into a spectacular display of decorated boats. The islanders sail their boats to the village, whilst the people of Cikoang build giant model boats along the shoreline, all decorated with colourful sarongs as sails.
The festival is one big social event, with crowds of people admiring the boats and decorations, and shopping and eating in the market that grows along the shoreline. The men and teenage boys also work out a few rivalries with friendly arm-wrestling matches and light-hearted Silat fights – the aim of which is to steal your opponent’s hat. Both seem to end in huge water fights, with everyone – photographers included – getting covered in water and sand. A perfect way to end a celebration…