Fun Bathing in Water filled Oranges in Pelalawan

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Written by Aditya Tri Hutama Posted 4th November 2014, 11:35am
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Translated by Shinta Dharmayu

In this archipelago, traditions and customs of the ancestors are still strong and ingrained in the Indonesian society, especially those who are still ruled by the indigenous villages in each region. With this wealthy customs and traditions, Indonesians should be proud by acknowleding the undoubtedly cultures and traditions from their ancestors in the area without worrying the extinction in this current society where each era has increasingly grown faster and faster. One known for their preservation of customs is by the ‘Pelalawan’ community from the Riau Province, the people here still preserve the traditions of their ancestors by performing the traditional bathing in orange water when the fasting month comes.

In this particular village, the community has a routine to perform the tradition that has been outlined for generations, as a form of gratitude and to purify the body and mind to welcome the fasting month. This tradtional bathing in orange water is known by the Pelalawan residents as the Balimau Kasai, which means bathing in orange or lime. According to the respectful elderly, this Balimau Kasai tradtion itself has physical meanings for inner cleansing such as jealousy and resentment towards any fellow villagers. Therefore, the elderly villagers also interpret this bathing event as a form of reflection of mistakes that have been made in the past.

According to the story of the past, Balimau Bathing had been around since their king Pelalawan, which became a natural custom of hereditary kings and also practiced by their citizens. And it turns out, this tradition also has spread to areas around Pelalawan, in the area of Kampar, the people also practice the  same bathing tradition for the same purpose. Unlike Pelalawan, Balimau Bathing in Kampar was formed as a gathering of two different religious traditions and become one which is the Hindu and Muslim.

You can watch and participate in the tradtional orange bathing in Pelalawan before the month of fasting, which is only in the month of Ramadan. First, they all have to go and respect their loved ones who have already passed at their graves and then together they would all go head towards the bathing ceremony. Before bathing, first of all, indigenous chiefs of the village will perform a meaningful ceremony called the Togak Tonggol as an opening ceremony with the traditional embedding flag ceremony at the site. After the ceremony is completed then all the villagers may go to the river to bathe together.
This is the  story and the chronology of this ancient tradition which is still preserved by Pelalawan community until now.