Bau Nyale Worm Festival
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Many thousand Sasak people from across Lombok flocked to the southern shore at Seger Kuta Beach late on Wednesday 23rd February to partake in the Bau Nyale event and catch as many sea worms as possible. The worms (Nyale) are thought, locally, to be the reincarnation of Princess Mandalika, who in legend, to save her subjects from war, drowned herself. Mandalika reigned over the Tonjeng Beru, a kingdom that included much of the modern central Lombok and was renown for her beauty. She was wooed by seven princes each threatened war if they failed to enchant the Princess. The Princes compromised and agreed if she could not be had by one then she should be had by all. On hearing this she drowned herself off Seger Kuta Beach where her sprit was taken up by the colourful worms.
Lombok's Sasak inhabitants, to mark this event , have for many hundreds of years made this pilgrimage and catch the worms in the belief that they hold the spirit of "the wise old princess"
Wednesday evening event began as hoards of Sasak began gathering on the surrounding hilltops overlooking the beach. The Highlight of the festivities was a staged fight between to local youths, armed with leather bound shields and rattan stick, to represent the rivaling princes. They put on a spirited display, which the locals believe is vital to remembering the might of ancient kingdoms and underlining the Bau Nyale as a memoriam to a peaceful resolution of an impending war.
Later in the evening as night approached many more events were held one of which was a pageant to select a new Princess Mandalika. The whole event reached a peak at dawn, all the revelers descended to the beach to start their search for worms in the reefs and rocks. Scooping up the glowing multi coloured worms by the handful using, flashlights, lanterns and bamboo baskets, some people ate the worms believing they provide a range of health benefits. At the end of the whole event everyone had an ample supply of worms. Its said that the amount of worms caught reflects the success of the harvest.
The Provincial Tourism Office said that this event was being promoted along with the Lombok Tourism administration as part of a wider campaign that includes 70km+ of white sandy beaches that stretch along Lombok's southern coast that ear-marked for development, adding that Lombok's whole ethos of developing tourism was through Culture and Tradition.Extracts from the Jakarta Post