"Makepung Jembrana": A Well-known and Unique Tradition of Buffalos Race in Jembrana, Bali

The Origin of Makepung Jembrana Bali - Bali as one of Indonesia’s most favorite islands to visit has variety of unique traditions to offer as the tourist attractions. Jembrana, one of regencies in Bali which located on the trip West of Bali, has a unique buffalo race tradition called Makepung Jembrana.

But unlike the one in Madura Island, East Java, the race in this event is held among buffalo, not cows. Makepung has been an old tradition preserved by local people in Jembrana and has become one of tourist attracts in Jembrana, Bali.

The word makepung means chasing each other. The tradition originated when the farmers in ancient times in Bali tried to fill their spare time after they plough their field using their buffalo. Between their resting times the farmers did the race for fun. The bulls were raced by tied to chart that is ridden by a jockey.

As time goes by, the makepung tradition is getting loved by many people, and there are more and more people come and enjoy as the race is held. Until now, the makepung is considered as an interesting cultural attraction and has to be preserved.



The Competition



1. The local government role

Seeing that Makepung is getting popular among the people, the local government then made a certain agenda forthe buffalos race. Regent Cup and Jembrana Cup are then become the annual competitions held by the local government. It is meant to preserve the traditional culture of Jembrana.



2. The participants

In Makepung Jembrana, there are two groups joining a competition. The West Ijogading group has green flag, while The East Ijogading group has red flag. The division is based on current of the stream Ijogading that divides the capital of Jembrana Regency.



3. The Winner of the Competition

Unlike any other race, makepung has different regulation to decide who the winner is. Commonly, the winner of the race is the contestant who reaches the finish line first. But that’s not whathappens in makepung. The winner is those who can enlarge the distance between the contestants which has been determined by the committee.

The determined space is 10 meters. If a contestant can keep the space or even lengthen the space into more than 10 meters from the other contestant behind, then he win the race. On the other hand, if the contestant behind can shorten its distance into less than 10 meters from the contestant in front of him, then he win the race. That’s the uniqueness of the makepung. The track to be completed is 1-2 kilometers away on bare land with the “U” shape.



4. The “fashion”

The contestant of the makepung has an obligation to do the “fashion style” too. Not only the buffalos, the jockey and also the chart used in the race should be “dressed-up” nicely. The charts are painted in many colors, the buffalos use head scarfs and crowns, the jockey also wear fancy costumes. All of those things have made the race more interesting to enjoy.



5. The buffalo

The buffalos used in the race are the selective ones. They are also well-fed and treated in extra ordinary way before the race. Special food and certain traditional herbs are given to the bulls to prepare the buffalos for the competition. Those are done in purpose to make the buffalo has a perfect stamina to compete in the race. Even, some of the owners hold ritual ceremony for the buffalo before the race. They will pray to the Gods and goddess to bless his buffalos so that the bulls will win the race in makepung.



6. The Unfortunate Fact about Makepung Jembrana

Unfortunately, there’s a kind of irritation during the race. To speed up the buffalos, the jockey will hit the bulls using a stick to which some nails have been already set. Of course, it hurts the buffalo’s body; the blood will shed on the buffalo’s body. However, the owners ensure that the wounds on the buffalo’s body will quickly healed with traditional medicine that smeared over the body of the buffalos after the race.

It is strongly suggested that the committee should take this matter into the consideration to make specific regulation in the race, because the race is commonly enjoyed by the kids too.



The Time of the Race

Makepung Jembrana has become annual agenda in Jembrana, Bali. It is held in April, May, or June in every year. To be able to enjoy the event, you don’t have to pay anything. It is free for everyone who would like to watch the competition.

So, when you decide that Bali will be your destination for your holiday, you’d better include Jembrana into the list of places to visit in Bali.


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