Sav­ing the en­vi­ron­ment with lo­cal wis­dom

The Jakarta Post - JPlus - - Image Finder -

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.

WORDS & PHOTOS TARKO SUDIARNO

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.

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