Saving the environment with local wisdom
Woro River in Klaten, Central Java, was one of the areas affected by the massive eruption of Merapi in 2010, with gravel and rocks filling the river located on the slope of the mountain. The avalanche of materials brought its own blessings to the local community, as well as business opportunities for quarries. Scores of heavy vehicles and trucks descended on the area and worked around the clock clearing the river of sand to be brought to the capital and other cities in Java.
In less than five years, the river has been completely cleared of materials, upsetting the balance of nature and the environment on Merapi. Quarrying enterprises are now moving in on local residential areas.
As a reminder of the unchecked activities of the quarrying companies, several social and cultural activists in Klaten held a peaceful campaign at the end of October, “Goro Swara Nusantara”, in the middle of the river. Various cultural and arts groups from religious boarding schools, the Hindu and Buddhist communities and Barongsai (lion dance) troupes took part, united by the wayang character of Petruk who is considered the protector and guard of the local environment.
One of the initiators of the campaign, Bimo Agus Prayitno, said the cultural campaign could become a regular event through focusing on upholding local wisdom.
“We are not simply campaigning for environmental preservation but also breathing live into the traditions and culture to be found on the slopes of Merapi,” he said.
STEP TO IT: Men dressed in lurik traditional striped fabric perform a dance involving stamping their feet repeatedly in tune.
IMPROMPTU TURN: A local security officer does a spontaneous dance as part of the activities.
ROCK MUSIC: The boulders from the Merapi eruption are used as a source of music.
BRAVING THE RAIN: Dressed as the wayang character Petruk, a troupe of young dancers refuses to let the rainy day affect its performance.
EVIL BE GONE: The burning of an effigy of a wild hog serves to drive away bad luck.
HERE HE COMES: An oversize effigy of Petruk is held up during the parade.