In­done­sian fes­ti­val high­lights vi­brant cul­ture

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - CITY | STATE - By Kaylee Du­sang

Best friends Devin Neuge­bauer and Nyson Rizqi have at­tended the an­nual Hous­ton In­done­sian Fes­ti­val with their par­ents since they were pint-size.

Now in mid­dle school and high school, the two vol­un­teered at the fes­ti­val’s first year at Jones Plaza on Sat­ur­day. Pre­vi­ously called the In­done­sian Culi­nary Fes­ti­val, the event started in 2014 to show­case Hous­ton’s var­i­ous di­verse com­mu­ni­ties.

“I feel like the most im­por­tant thing is learn­ing about where you come from,” said Neuge­bauer, who at­tends Thorn­ton Mid­dle School. “Be­cause if you don’t then ev­ery­thing is go­ing to be for­got­ten through­out your fam­ily.”

The fes­ti­val show­cases In­done­sian cui­sine such as Ren­dang, a meat dish served dur­ing cer­e­monies; tra­di­tional mu­sic and dance per­for­mances; and a fash­ion show fea­tur­ing batik, cloth that has been dyed us­ing wax. A Ba­li­nese wel­com­ing dance per­formed by the Putri Man­da­lika Dancers from Florida served as the tra­di­tional en­trance for cer­e­mo­nial events.

Rizqi, whose par­ents are from In­done­sia, vol­un­teered and at­tended to sup­port his sis­ter, a dancer who per­formed the tra­di­tional Sa­man dance from the Aceh prov­ince of Su­ma­tra.

“It’s im­por­tant to keep the cul­ture alive,” said Rizqi, who is home­schooled. “I re­mem­ber talk­ing to some­one and they didn’t even know where In­done­sia was.”

Neuge­bauer’s mother, who is In­done­sian, was a food ven­dor at the event.

“The events are re­ally fun and it’s all about learn­ing your cul­ture,” Neuge­bauer said. “I just think it’s amaz­ing that we started out so small and now we can rent out the whole Jones Plaza.”

Neuge­bauer and Rizqi both be­long to In­done­sian North Amer­i­can Mus­lim Youth (INAMY), a re­li­gious non­profit that pro­motes the In­done­sian cul­ture, his­tory and the prin­ci­ples of Is­lam. They said one of the rea­sons they like be­ing a part of the or­ga­ni­za­tion is be­cause it is a way to be sur­rounded by other In­done­sians.

“I’m here to show sup­port, and I hon­estly haven’t seen this many In­done­sians in a long time,” Rizqi said. “Es­pe­cially be­cause there’s other In­done­sians (here) from the church com­mu­nity and the Mus­lim com­mu­nity, which I don’t see much.”

Nana Yu­liana, the con­sul gen­eral of the Repub­lic of In­done­sia, said the fes­ti­val show­cases the preva­lence of the eco­nomic re­la­tion­ship be­tween the United States and In­done­sia, which has the fourth largest pop­u­la­tion in the world.

“We want to show­case our cul­ture, beau­ti­ful prod­ucts and we want we strengthen eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion be­tween In­done­sia and Hous­ton es­pe­cially,” Yu­liana said. “We ex­port to Hous­ton, but Hous­ton also ex­ports to In­done­sia.”

Yu­liana said one of the chal­lenges is show­ing the com­mu­nity the eco­nomic re­la­tion­ship be­tween Hous­ton and In­done­sia, such as with com­pa­nies like Chevron.

“Hous­ton is an in­ter­na­tional city,” Yu­liana said. “So, the pres­ence of In­done­sia here will bring sup­port and strengthen Hous­ton as a city.”

The fes­ti­val con­tin­ues from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sun­day at the Con­sulate Gen­eral of Repub­lic In­done­sia.

Gary Foun­tain / Con­trib­u­tor

Lenny No­falina cooks beef curry dur­ing the In­done­sian Fes­ti­val on Sat­ur­day at Jones Plaza. The fes­ti­val fea­tures tra­di­tional food, songs and danc­ing.

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