Surakarta's bamboo raft festival attracts thousands
Thousands of people flocked both banks of Bengawan Solo River in Surakarta, Central Java on Sunday to be spectators of the 2013 Bengawan Solo Gethek Festival.
Gethek is the local name of a raft made of bamboo stems that are tied together to form a flat surface and these include floats made of either inner tubes from used cars, jerrycans or drums, depending on the depth of the water.
Up to twenty-eight gethek joined the festival that started from Ngepung hamlet, Sangkrah village in Pasar Kliwon district, and finished at the Ronggowarsito Park in the Taru Jurug Animal Park. The route covers a distance of 4.2 kilometers.
The two-by-five meter rafts, all interestingly designed with traditional Javanese-style decorations, were created by many society organizations in Solo from district level to city level.
One gethek was built to look like a Phinisi boat (a masterpiece of traditional Bugis-Makassar design), another was decorated with Barongsai (lion) ornaments and one particular gethek was boldly carrying a three-meter-tall statue of the monkey god Hanoman.
Several traditional dances and art performances were also part of the attractions on the moving gethek, including a Barongsai Dance and the lively Lembu Suro Dance from Jagalan, Surakarta.
Held annually since 2010, the festival aims to remind people of the importance of maintaining the cleanliness of the longest river in the Java Island.
According to this year's data by the State Ministry of the Environment (KLH), river basin areas (DAS) of Bengawan Solo are one of five in the country that is in the most critical condition.
"We have to begin right now to increase people's awareness in keeping the environment along the river banks clean," said Surakarta Mayor FX Hadi Rudyatmo.
As an effort to grab more attention to the cleanliness campaign, other cultural events also take place on Bengawan Solo such as Gunungan Charity Boat Race organized by the Gunungan Foundation and the Larung Ageng Joko Tingkir held by the Surakarta Palace to float offerings on Java’s longest river.