THE MADURESE BULL RACING FESTIVAL

Image by Devanocturno - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
The Madurese Bull Racing Festival or Karapan Sapi is a special festival of the inhabitants living on Madura Island. It is celebrated in the month of August or September every year. Usually, the final race is held at the end of September or October.

Two bulls pulling a wooden cart run very fast towards the finishing line. The jockey stands on the cart controlling the speeds and movements of the bulls. The racing takes place in 10 seconds to 1 minute over a 100 meter distance.

Besides racing, karapan Sapi is also a prestige folk culture and party which will increase one’s social status. Those who want to join should spend a lot of money to take care of their bulls before the festival.

Building muscle and maintaining the health of a bull that is going to race needs at least 4 million rupiahs. The bull should be served with herbal medicines and a dozen chicken eggs a day, especially when the day of the Bull Racing Festival is approaching.

The Madurese celebrate this festival after a good tobacco or rice harvest. Besides tourist attraction, it plays other important roles such as a good opportunity for vendors to sell things or food, work of applying mantras and calculating auspicious numbers of the bulls before racing. Each team has a dukun or shaman to put magic spells on the bulls, so that they will have a high probability of winning the contest.

Before the racing starts, every pair of the bulls is accompanied by the team to walk around the racing area while traditional musical instruments are being played in the procession.

At the end of the first round, the referee announces the groups that come out as the winner or loser. The second round is to determine the number one loser of the losing groups. The third round is used for identifying the winner from the winning groups. The presidential rolling trophy is only given to the champion who has won first place in the competition.

According to the traditional story, the tradition of the Madurese Bull Racing dates back to the 15th century. In those days, Madura Island was dry and unfertile and it wasn’t suitable for farming.

A prince named Katandur wanted to make the Madura Island fertile. Later, he used buffaloes to cultivate the land and improve soil fertility. Eventually, the plan was successful. He succeeded to turn a barren tract into a highly productive land which was suitable for vegetation.

In order to celebrate the moment of glory, the prince asked the farmers to join a bull racing game. All the people were very glad and they prepared everything for the competition. This is the old tradition which has been handed down from the past.

Madura Island is one of the famous tourist destinations that is worth visiting. Visitors can travel around this island by motorcycles. Karapan Sapi or the Bull Racing Festival is so attractive and most tourists like it. It’s a good idea to bring a video camera, so that you can record the most beautiful and valuable events and people on that island.

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