The Acting Governor of Bali, Sang Made Mahendra Jaya, is encouraging tourists to experience more of the traditional Balinese culture.
While visiting temples and trying traditional Balinese food is a popular way for tourists to appreciate the island’s unique heritage, Acting Governor Mahendra Jaya wants to see tourists really dive in deep.
Jembrana Regency has just celebrated the 2023 Makepung Governor’s Cup. The sporting event was attended by Acting Governor Mahendra Jaya and other leading officials. But what is Makepung?
This unique sport has brought anthropologists, journalists, and culture lovers to Bali for decades. The sport is exhibited throughout Indonesia, especially in Java. However, Jembrana Regency is the real home of buffalo racing.
During the sporting season, Makepung races are held across Jembrana Regency every two weeks and always on Sunday. The season culminates in the Makepung Governor’s Cup.
Makepung is a serious business and an ancient part of Balinese culture that is still thriving today. Race day is a huge occasion, the water buffalo’s horns are painted and the animals often wear headdresses.
Similar to carriage racing with horses, the Makepung involves racing water buffalo who are pulling a chariot-style cart around a 125m long rice paddle track.
Four jockeys compete at a time with two buffalo pulling each chariot. Racers from the east of the island typically wear red and those from the westerly regions wear green. Though loved by many, Makepung does attract some controversy, similar to the criticisms of horse racing.
@markorandelovic Heading to the Bali International Film Festival 🎉 Looks like I’m going to the Bali International Film Festival 🎉My film Makepung was just selected for he event which will be held from the 9-12 June, looking forward to attending for the first time and it’s great to see it being selected#Bali #Indonesia #Makepung #Jembrana #Buffalo #BuffaloRacing #baliculture #balitradition #westbali #balinale2022 #balinale #balifilmfestival #canggu #canggubali ♬ original sound – Marko Randelovic
Speaking to the media during the 2023 Makepung Governor’s Cup, Acting Governor Mahendra Jaya shared, “Apart from being an expression of traditional cultural art that must be preserved, Makepung is also a potential tourist attraction, because of its characteristics and uniqueness that are second to none in Bali and even at the national and international level.”
He continued, “The Makepung tradition as an icon and leading tourist attraction of Jembrana Regency has been recognized and recorded as one of the Intangible Natural Cultural Heritage [items for UNSECO].”
“In this regard, we must be able to maintain this award by continuing to strive, commit, and be creative to improve its quality and attractiveness so that it is true, it can really provide benefits.”
The promotion of Makepung racing to tourists would certainly go a long way in bringing more tourists to Jembrana Regency.
The area is often overlooked by international tourists in Bali since it covers most of the southwest of the island, sitting over 3-hours away from the major tourist attractions and resorts in Badung Regency.
Acting Governor Mahendra Jaya addresses the concern that promoting Makepung racing to tourists in the modern day may be tricky, especially since many organizations are working to eliminate animal entertainment in the tourism industry.
He noted, however, that from the provincial government’s perspective, the preservation and promotion of Makepung racing has benefits in the tourism and cultural sense, as well as a positive impact on the agricultural sector.
Acting Governor Mahendra Jaya explained that moving forward, Bali must develop more tourism businesses and experiences that create destinations that can compete with other resorts on the island, and around the world; and that this requires a unique edge.
In his view, Makepung racing can help establish villages across Jembrana Regency as tourism destinations that will support community empowerment and boost the economy.
It is clear that leaders in the tourism space do want to see Jemrbana and West Bali put on the tourist map.
The Head of the Jembrana Tourism and Culture Service, Anak Agung Komang Sapta Negara, recently told reporters that ticket sales at leading attractions are below target for this time of year.
As Jembrana awaits the development of the island’s biggest theme park, the new Paramount Park & Gardens, there is plenty for tourists to explore.
Starting with the West Bali National Park, tourists are encouraged to add the seawater swimming pool in Delodberawah Village, the Gilimanuk Early Human Museum, in addition to Candikusuma Beach, and the majestic Gilimanuk Shiva Statue to their bucket list adventures.
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