Saturday, 17 August 2013

14 Most Common Indonesian Independence Day Games

Happy Independence Day, Indonesia! It's been 68 years! :D

Today's special article will talk about 14 most common games/competitions played during the Independence Day celebration. Here they are!

1. Eating crackers.
Indonesia has a specific type of crackers, called kerupuk putih ("white kerupuk") or simply kerupuk. It is made of tapioca and has a woven look. In this timed game, kerupuks are hanged on ropes and each player will try to eat his kerupuk without using hands. The winner is the one who can finish his kerupuk the most.

2. Transferring eels.
In this game, players transfer eels as many as they can from a bucket into another bucket, or sometimes into a bottle, for added difficulty. The second row of containers are placed a few meters across the first row of containers so players must race each other without dropping the eels. Usually smaller eels are used, and eels being eels, they are pretty slimy; there will be some poor eels that get dropped and lost in the grassy ground.

3. Inserting a nail into a bottle.
Each player will have a rope tied around his waist, with a nail (or a pencil or a pen) dangling from the back side of the rope. Players must race each other to the end of the yard, where they will try to insert their perpetually swaying nails into open bottles.

4. Marble race.
In this game, each player will race while carrying a marble. The catch is, the marble will be placed on a spoon, which must be carried by mouth, which must be transferred onto another player's spoon waiting a few meters across, who must carry the marble to the Start line again. Depending on the rule, if a player drops his marble, he may have to go back to the Start line and restart the race, or he simply needs to put the marble back onto the spoon. Some versions of the game also require the players to scoop up the marbles themselves from a plate, using the spoons in their mouths.

This game is very popular with the kids, but I personally think the transferring marble part most entertaining when performed by adults.

5. Sack race.
I'm sure the sack race is familiar to many people around the globe, so no need to explain it further. But here's a beautiful black-and-white picture of boys competing in the race.

6. Bakiak race.
A bakiak is essentially a wooden sandal, like those worn by Japanese geishas. The bakiak in this race, however, is made of a long block of wood with *at least* three rubber or fabric loops serving as the footing. The bakiak race is a team game and requires good cooperation. One player will be made leader of his team, and the leader will be in the front shouting commands like "left, right, left, right" to the players behind him. Eventually there will be teams who stumble, but the trickiest part is actually when they have to turn around and go back to the Start line! The winning team is the one who cross the Start line first. Teams who stumble and fall in the middle of the race are not usually disqualified.

7. Egrang (stilt) race.
'Nuff said.

8. Bolster fight.
This is my favourite Independence Day game because it's very, VERY fun to watch! Opponents will sit facing each other, spread-legged, on a pole of bamboo suspended above a body of water, and they will fight each other using bolsters (or pillows). A player loses if he falls into the water. The catch is, and what makes it even more hilarious, sometimes you fall not because your opponent hits you, but because you lose balance on the bamboo!

9. Popping balloons.
Each player will have a balloon tied to his ankle, and at the sound of the whistle, will have to try to pop the others' balloons. The winner is the one whose balloon remains intact. I have personally participated in this game when I was like 8 years-old, and I can proudly say that I was one of the last two persons standing! (the other person eventually beat me, but he was a boy, so I can still have my credit, can't I?)

10. Dancing while balancing balloons.
Another hilarious game to watch! Each player and his partner (preferably with the same height) have to balance a balloon using their foreheads, and dance to music! Sometimes oranges instead of balloons are used. The winning couple is the one that can dance the longest without dropping their balloon/orange.

11. Men's football (soccer) in nightgowns.
Guys like to take pride in their football (soccer) skills, but can they do it while wearing women's nightgowns??

12. Blindfolded makeup.
In this timed game, teams made up of two persons will try to apply makeup to each other in turns. The one who applies will have their eyes blindfolded. I personally have never seen this game, but I saw it once or twice on the TV. For added fun, a rule can be made that a team must be of a husband and wife.

13. Tug of war.
Very popular with the school kids, office employees, and military folks. No need to explain this one, so I'll just give you a picture.

14. Pole climbing (panjat pinang).
This is the ULTIMATE game in any Independence Day celebrations. Traditionally, it uses pinang trunks (hence its name "panjat pinang" = pinang climbing), but regular poles can also be used. On the top of each pole/pinang are prizes of various values, from a plastic bucket to a television set, from a pair of flip-flops to a bicycle.

Pole climbing is usually reserved for adult men, although older boys may also participate. This is because the game is pretty physical; the players will have to make a human ladder so that one person can climb his friends towards the hanging prizes. This is not a rule, however. A person is allowed to climb by himself, if he can :p But this is almost impossible because the poles will usually be smeared with oil to make things even more difficult.

So, Happy Independence, Indo bros and sis! MERDEKA!!*

*merdeka = to be free, to be independent. A slogan yelled during Independence Day.


  1. Thanks for sharing these traditions, it was fun to read as someone who hasn't experienced it. I don't think I've ever played any of these games, though I have obviously heard of a few. Happy Independence Day!

    1. Thank you, Catholic Mutt! Yes, it was fun even for me to write about! :D Do you have any traditional games to celebrate 4th of July? :)


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