An island part of the Riau Archipelago in Indonesia but geographically nearer the country of Singapore, the Batam Island is a small but busy island city in the province of Sumatra. It is the fastest-growing tourist spot in Indonesia. Often touched by its Westerner visitors, the island is far more modern than most regions in Indonesia. But even though outside it appears receptive to modern changes and development, the underlying forces behind the culture and festivals in Batam Island are still predominantly conservative Muslim, echoing the religious beliefs, culture and practices of other Muslim countries.
For instance, the religious festivals in Batam Island completely uphold the principles of Islam. Indonesia, after all, is the largest Islamic country in the world. And Batam Island observes quite a number of religious festivals in the country. So if you’re thinking of visiting Batam Island and you would like to plan your vacation around their festivals, read on to learn more about the most colorful festivals in the island, religious or otherwise.
Usually celebrated in September, the Mooncake Festival (also known as Mid-Autumn Festival and the Lantern Festival), is one of the most important festivals in Batam Island. The day is believed to be marked by lucky signs, good omens and the promise of success and happiness. The moon will be shining brightest on this day, according to the Chinese, who initially celebrated the occasion to thank the gods for their bountiful harvest.
In Batam, the children will light brightly colored lanterns of varying shapes like butterflies, fish and squirrels. There will also be an abundance of moon cakes baked especially for the occasion. These moon cakes are said to contain secret messages that foretell your future.
During Lomban Festival, which is celebrated every year in January, fishermen offer their thanks to the sea for its richness and their bountiful harvests for the year. They throw flowers, fruits and livestock food products like chicken, buffalo heads, pigs and many others to the sea. They also hold canoe race competitions that over the years have become very popular, even amongst the tourists. The festival is usually ended with cultural performances including a show where fishermen will be fighting with pirates as a way to commemorate the battles of the locals with the sea robbers.
The whole country celebrates this festival after the Ramadan, which is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar where Muslims fast every day. During the festival, people will be wearing new clothes they bought months ahead. They will also be praying in the temples to ask forgiveness for their sins.
4. Kenduri Seni Melayu (Melayu Art Festival)
This is celebrated around September each year in Batam Island. All ethnic group minorities in the whole of South East Asia participate in this event. The festival is done to celebrate the heritage and the ethnic roots of the indigenous tribes across South East Asia. This is one of the best examples of how the locals and their social practices best describe the culture and festivals in Batam Island.