Destinations in Indonesia
The Lomban Sea Festival in Jepara and Karimunjawa
Sea offering ceremonies are not something uncommon to many of Indonesian societies who inhabit the coastal areas of the many islands. Along Central Java’s northern coast, the sea offering traditions is celebrated 7 days after the Islamic religious festivities of Eid Al Fitri and is known as Lomban. Although it is celebrated in many towns along Central Java’s northern coastal cities such as in Kudus, Pati, and Juwana, this exciting sea festival is always celebrated vibrantly in the town of Jepara and the nearby Karimunjawa Islands.
The term ”Lomban” is believed to be derived from the word “Lelumban” or “to have fun” since it is the day when all members of society gather and become involved in various activities and colorful festivities. The Lomban fiesta is also called “Ba’da Kupat” since it is also the pinnacle of what Javanese tradition regards as Lebaran Kupat/Ketupat where families will cook Kupat.
Ketupat is a culinary delight made from rice, wrapped in leaves, that is invariably present during the Lebaran or Eid Al Fitri celebrations. Along with other dishes such as Opor Ayam (Coconut Chicken Curry), sambal goreng, and oseng-oseng, the Kupat dish is an icon of the Eid Al Fitri celebration itself.
During the Lomban ceremony, people of every age gather at the Kartini Beach in Jepara. The ceremony itself starts as early as 06.00 in the morning with the casting off of offerings at the Jobokuto fishing port. Led by religious leaders of the Jobokuto Village and accompanied by Jepara government officials, prayers are recited and the offering of a buffalo head will be blessed before it is cast out to sea. The casting of offering itself symbolizes the expression of gratitude for all that the Almighty God has provided and also for prayers for good fortune in the future. Led by the Regent of Jepara and accompanied by tens of fishing boats, the offerings are then taken far out to sea and cast off.
The many fishing boats then gather at the Bay of Jepara for exciting war games. As the blasting firecrackers are fired, the exciting “gulf war” commences. Armed with ketupat, lepet, and other traditional snacks, boats would fire at each other while the vibrant music of the Kebogiro Gamelan acts as musical background.
After a “fierce” and fun combat, all of the boats then head out to Kelor Islands to pay a visit to the Tomb of Encik Lanang, one of the Ancestors of Jeparans. On Kelor Island, participants of Lomban then spread out a picnic or just play around with their families on the beach. Various art performances also decorate the Lomban tradition such as the Gambyong Dance, Langen Beken Dance, and many others.
Aside from Jepara, the Lomban tradition is also celebrated in the Karimunjawa Islands. In this island-chain the Lomban ceremony is usually staged at Ujung Gelam, Koin Beach, and other coastal areas.