Ministry seeks to preserve tradition through dance on Banda Island

Ministry seeks to preserve tradition through dance on Banda Island

People perform the Cakalele dance at the Mini palace, Banda Naira, Banda Island, Central Maluku, on Monday (June 20, 2022). (ANTARA/Jimmy Ayal)

Banda Naira, Maluku (ANTARA) - The Education, Culture, Research, and Technology Ministry organized a Cakalele dance festival in Banda Naira, Banda Island, Central Maluku District, Maluku, to support the preservation of the traditional dance.

"This festival has not only gathered people from eight traditional villages on Banda Island, but is also part of an effort to preserve the culture that has developed among the people," Director General of Culture at the ministry Hilmar Farid said during the opening of the Cakalele Dance Festival in Banda Naira on Monday.

The dance festival is one of the cultural traditions included in the 2022 Spice Route Cultural Goods, especially at Banda Naira, which is known as the point zero location of the Spice Route, especially for nutmeg.

Farid said that Cakalele is not merely a dance for public exhibition, but has ritualistic content, and performing or demonstrating it requires long preparation.

"I can see that there is an expression of gratitude that in the end the Cakalele dance from these eight traditional villages can be brought together in a festival, as well as seen firsthand by the Wandan (people) from the Kei Island, Southeast Maluku, who are Banda descendants," he added.

The event served as an important opportunity for the Wandan people to come and see their ancestral homeland, abandoned since four centuries ago, he said.

The Directorate General of Culture at the Education, Culture, Research and Technology Ministry invited and facilitated the visit of Baudara Wandan from Kei Island, led by King Bashar Alimuddin Latar, who arrived in Banda Naira on June 16, 2022.

Basudara Wandan are descendants of Banda who now live on Kei Island, and are known as the Negeri Banda Ely and Banda Elat. They were expelled and survived a VOC (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) massacre in 1621 after they refused to monopolize the spice trade on Banda Island.

Farid said that essentially, the festival is meant to showcase the extensive community involvement in preserving and introducing the culture and customs inherited from ancestors that are still practiced until now.

"This is how cultural events should be conducted, and truly involve the public. People (initiate) the preservation of culture, (and) we (the Directorate General of Culture) only facilitate it so that it can be realized," he added.

The participants of the event expressed their admiration and pride for getting to witness the Cakalele dance performed by people from eight traditional villages of Banda Island.

"Banda Island is already very well known and has become legendary because of the fragrance of the nutmeg spice in olden times so much so that Europeans sought (to monopolize) it. I am proud and happy to be able to arrive in Banda, especially witnessing the Cakalele dance firsthand," Noval Karom, a participant from West Java province, said.

He saw the importance of the Banda people preserving and developing their cultural heritage so that it is not eroded and consumed by the times or globalization and modernization.

"This is the first time I have witnessed the Cakalele dance, especially when it is performed from eight villages. This is extraordinary and needs to be protected and preserved, and passed on to the younger generation and children," he remarked.

A participant from Central Sulawesi, Jeane Pombaela, also expressed her appreciation and great joy at being able to witness one of the traditions of the Banda Island people.

"It's hard to put into words. Banda Island is not only famous for its nutmeg spice that went global, but also rich in many cultures and traditions. This is beyond my expectations," she said.

She said that she was not only fascinated by Cakalele dance, but also Siamale and Wana dances, which were performed by the residents. On top of that, the Banda people were friendly to visitors, thereby making them feel welcomed. 

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