THE BUANG JONG RITUAL

Photo: https://pixabay.com/en/sea-ocean-sunset-boat-ship-water-67901/

In Belitung dialect, Buang Jong means releasing a sailing boat into the sea. This ritual is usually performed by the fishermen on Belitung Island. They hope God will grant them a good living and perpetual peace. It is usually conducted from August to November.

At the beginning of the ritual, a group of performers are hitting drums and gongs in a procession and a replica of traditional sailing boat is being carried to the beach. The replica is placed over a few pieces of logs on the sand. The front side of the replica faces the sea. It means that it is ready to be set free.

Some well known people who have great contribution to tradition and culture pray to invite sea god to attend the ritual. Later, a shaman performs a traditional dance by following the rhythm of drums and gongs.

He holds a cone-shaped and house-like framework decorated with coconut leaves in his both hands. He dances and shakes the framework and turns it towards the east, west, north and south. It is called Ancak Dance.

Ancak dance is specially performed to invite sea god to join the ritual. Not long after that, the shaman is gradually falling into trance. He climbs to the top of a pole, symbolizing a climb to the top of a mountain or the mast of a ship. Belitung people call this show Jitun. Soon afterwards, the shaman is back to consciousness after accepting some magic spells.

Ancak is a bamboo tray which holds the ritual offerings. It is put on the top of a log for serving the land god and is not allowed to be taken to the sea.

A moment later, another ritual dance is performed, it is called Sambang Tali dance. The name of the dance is adopted from a bird’s name, which means the bird will find the locations where there are full of fishes and show them to the fishermen. Whenever the fishermen lose their way back home, the bird will help them out of the astray.

Two old men take a spear tied with rope which can be drawn back after it is thrown to the water. The sharp point of the spear which has been given a magic spell is able to kill a dugong, so it is called Numbak Dugong (spear the dugong).

After attaching bait on fish hook, the fishing activity begins. It is recommended that you keep silent and don’t wash your hands on the sea if you caught a lot of fish.

The replica of traditional boat is carried to the sea after performing Sampan Ngeleng dance (Turn the sampan around). This dance symbolizes the happiness of achieving good luck from the past into present. That’s why the guests or visitors are welcome to join this dance.

The replica which is going to be released should be flavored with magic words, so that the ritual offerings inside the replica will be accepted by the sea god. Afterwards, the replica is put on deep water. It floats away and disappears in the middle of the sea, promising that the fishermen will have good luck as well as earning a better living in the days to come.

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