Independence Day Celebrations

Blogs, Ethical trading & business, Labour rights, Women's rights article written on the 31 Aug 2010

English / Bahasa
On the 17 August we celebrated Indonesia’s 65th Independence Day. It has become a custom for Indonesians to commemorate Independence Day by holding competitions. Usually these competitions are held at several levels, from the local neighborhood to the village or district. But this year the factory also held competitions for the workers inside its grounds. The competitions included panjat pinang (pole climbing- as shown in the photographs), and a singing competition. I tried to take photos of the singing competition but they didn’t turn out great. Maybe I was too far away from the stage, or because the camera shook. See below for the photo that I took of panjat pinang at the factory.

In the panjat pinang competition, a palm tree that has been stripped of its bark is planted into the ground and coated with oil or lubricant to make it slippery. At the top of the pole there are all sorts of presents attached that the winner can snatch. Participants can take as many of the prizes as they can reach from on top of the pole. Usually the participants go in groups and they decide who will climb on top of who to create a human ladder. It’s very funny and makes all the spectators cheer. The more often the participants slide down the pole and try again, the more oil becomes stuck to their bodies and the more difficult it becomes for them to successfully climb. Perhaps this is why I’ve never seen any women participating in the pole climbing competition- the risk of humiliation is too high. Imagine being totally covered in oil, ones clothes become sticky and difficult to keep in place- you might just reveal everything!

Usually in Panjat Pinang the prizes are hung on top of the pole. This means if the prize is a TV, then the TV itself is hung up! Othertimes it is money inside an envelope or written on a card. It’s no wonder the participants are very enthusiastic and just won’t give up!

Have a question?

I might not be able to respond straight away but I’m happy to answer your questions about my life in Indonesia and my job at the sports shoe factory.

The photo that I took of Panjat Pinang

Panjat Pinang at my workplace (Sewani/OxfamAUS)

Indonesian Entry – Bahasa Indonesia

Perayaan Hari Kemerdekaan

Tanggal 17 Augustus kami merayakan Hari Kemerdekaan RI yang ke-65.
Sudah menjadi kebiasaan bagi warga Indonesia untuk menyambut hari ulang tahun kemerdekaan dengan mengadakan berbagai lomba. Biasanya lomba diadakan di tingkat RT sampai kelurahan/desa. Tapi tahun ini pabrik juga mengadakannya bagi buruh di dalam pabrik. Lombanya antara lain: panjat pinang (yang difoto) dan lomba nyanyi antar kelompok buruh. Saya memotret lomba nyanyi juga, sayangnya fotonya tidak jelas. Mungkin karena saya agak jauh dari panggung, atau karena kameranya goyang.

Dalam lomba panjat pinang, pohon pinang yg sudah dikuliti ditanam cukup kokoh dan dilumuri minyak (atau oli mesin) agar semakin licin. Di puncaknya diikatkan berbagai macam hadiah untuk diperebutkan. Peserta berhak atas hadiah apapun yang diraihnya di puncak itu. Tidak mudah untuk sampai ke puncak karena licinnya batang pinang, jadi peserta harus punya strategi untuk mencapai puncak. Biasanya peserta berkelompok, dan mereka bersepakat siapa menaiki siapa agar menjadi semacam tangga manusia. Oh ya, yg di bawah harus rela diinjak bahunya, bahkan terkadang kepalanya. Itulah yang lucu dan biasa membuat penonton bersorak-sorak. Semakin sering peserta melorot jatuh, dan mencoba lagi, semakin banyak minyak menempel di tubuhnya, sehingga semakin sulit lagi untuk naik dengan mulus. Makanya, rasanya belum pernah saya lihat ada lomba panjat pinang dengan peserta perempuan. Soalnya resikonya bisa mempermalukan diri sendiri…terbayang kalau sudha berlumur minyak, pasti pakaian lengket dan susah diatur…Bisa-bisa kelihatan semua!

Umumnya, dalam lomba panjat pinang hadiahnya digantung dari atas. Jadi kalau hadiah TV, ya TV-nya juga digantung! Lain kali ada uang yang dimasukkan ke dalam amplop atau nilainya tertulis di kertas. Maka tidak heran kalau peserta sangat semangat dan tidak mudah mengalah!