Brace yourself for a bumpy ride running with the bulls.
No need to go to Spain – Bali has its own tradition of running with the bulls.
Makepung in Bahasa Indonesia means to chase around. It is the tradition of buffalo racing in Balinese society, especially for those who live in Jembrana regency. The tradition was initially a form of entertainment for the farmers, while they were plowing their fields, before planting the rice. The race takes place in the middle of a wet field, where two buffalos have lampit, a farming tool used to level the soil, attached to them.
Thus the name Makepung Lampit became popular in the 1940s in Jembrana.
Today, the muddy entertainment has been slowly diminishing, along with the emergence of Makepung Cikar, which refers to a type of cart that transports sun-hulled rice.
The irrigation organization of Peh hamlet in Kaliakah village plays an important role in preserving the almost-vanished tradition of Makepung Lampit.
“Makepung Lampit has been a tradition in this village since the 1920s. It is a routine entertainment before planting the rice,” said farmer Ketut Lega from Peh.
On a 60 x 20 meter plot of wet farm land, farmers make ready four pairs of male buffalos that have been decorated with various ornaments.
The jockeys’ expressions, the muddy race and the decorated buffalos are all part of the main attraction, which is a tumultuous burst of energy and competitive spirit.
“Although I am arthritic, I really love to compete in this race,” said 60-year-old Wayan Sampun, who, despite his age, is one of the buffalo jockeys.
Lega said that the tradition could only be performed twice a year, depending on the soil conditions and the water availability.
“We will try to continue preserving this tradition and introduce it to a wider audience,” said Lega.