Cultural performances across Lombok are diverse and varied with vibrant life and peaceful ceremonies. They include a scope of dances based on warriors to peaceful ceremonies for burials and offerings etc. The most popular of these is known as the peresean, which is a high-energy fight between two young men with rattan sticks and shields and a judge controlling the preceding and decides up on a winner. All most any festival and ritual in Lombok will be lead by the Gendang Belaq, a large drum that was originally used to lead people into battle. Today the Gendang Belaq is used for peaceful ceremonies and festivals and to welcome important guests.
The Perang Topat or rice cake war is a ritual ceremony, which again in derived from the days of war when the king would lead his people into battle during the unstable times of the Indonesian past. Here the blessing is to God for his deliverance of fertile soil and healthy harvest. Interestingly this ceremony is performed by both Hindus and Sasaks who celebrate this day in a number of ways, one of which is to throw rice cakes at each other. This ceremony is great to watch if you are around at the time which is the 6th full moon on the Sasak calendar which is usually in November or December.
The Lebaran Topat is an event celebrated by as part of the Moslem followers of Lombok and is a happy occasional where the traditional food of the people, the Topat is eaten with a variety of side dishes and prayer is performed for the safety and prosperity of the Mosque. This is usually limited to west Lombok so it is visible in Mataram and Senggigi and is a joyance affair. Another excellent fun event is the Male’an Sampi, which is a traditional event meaning ‘cow chase’ where, cows race over about 100m of waterlogged grounds. This usually takes place in the farming off-season and displays a wonderful sight of social unity between the people of the villages. The cows are well treated and there are rarely injuries as this is their natural terrain. This even is organized by farmers and enjoyed by all. The farmers also consider the results of these races closely for breeding purposes.
The Batek Baris Dance is a march like dance where the Dutch military style is imitated, commands are given in Dutch although they are spoken in a Sasak Dialect. The Batek Baris Dance is usually performed during the Pujawali traditional ceremony processions. It is unclear whether the purpose to mock the Dutch, respect their influence upon the country or whether it symbolizes the strength of their own people during the Dutch reign.
All of the Lombok traditional and cultural dances are a wonder to see and it is certainly worth finding out the exact dates of any of the above or any other ceremonies and attending one that falls within your time in Lombok. Given the chance, it is even worth planning your holiday dates in order to catch one of the larger events.