Tabot Festival In Bengkulu Indonesia

Tabot festival in Bengkulu Indonesia

Once every year of arabic calendar, Tabot festival is held in the city of Bengkulu Indonesia  from 1st  to 10th day of its first month (Muharram).  On  this year (2011) this event will be held  on November 27 to December 6. This festival is so attractive. In ten days in Bengkulu city, there are different rituals will be held to complete the ceremony of Tabot every day. The festival would also feature performing arts, markets, craft fairs, and various competitions such as decorative wagon, Dol (big local drum) contest, regional dance contest, and various other arts events. 

It would be very joyful if you could attend all cultural events in those ten days.  But if you only has a few days visits, i reccomend you to attend the last two days of the festival, that is on 5 and 6 of December 2011. On those last two days, thousands of people from all around Bengkulu, local tourists  and international  tourists will be gathered to watch the beatiful and colorful displays of Tabot.

On December 5, tabots from all around Bengkulu will be gathered and concentrated in one place near Tapak Paderi . The next day,  at  noon of the last day (December 6),  all those colorful tabot will be brought by foot to its final destination in Kuaro Bela, a place with a distance about 4 km from Tapak Paderi. It is like the pharade of Tabots on that day. 

The main structure of the Tabot is the tower decorated it colorful ornaments
A tabot is mainly consist of  a tower structure with the colorful ornaments  decorated all around this tower. The structure is usually made by bamboo, rattan and wooden beam. The covering ornaments are made from color and glitter papers, artificial flowers, golden strings, fabrics and other  colorful ornamental goods. Some arabic written in golden color usually also displayed at tabot cover.

Tabot is also equipped with wagon on its base in order to make it movable. Some of tabots also ornamented with one big  winged horse with human head doll. I think this doll is represent bouraq, a vehicle that was used by prophet Muhammad SAW  in Isra’ Mi’raj event. The height of tabots are from 3 meters up to 10 meters. Because at this heigth it is taller than many objets those crossing the road around the area, so the tabot makers engineered  their  top of tabot to make it enable to flip at the half part of its top.

Some tabots at the pharade

The beauty of colorful and glittering tabot

Some youngster holding bamboos ornamented with human like palm at the top as the part of tabot procession in Bengkulu

Tabot festival is believed to be the part of  Shi'ah ritual to commemorate the death of prophet Muhammad SAW grand sons - Hasan and Hussin. Hasan and Hussin were killed in the Battle of Karbala (now in Iraq) on 10 Muharram in the year 61 Hijriah (681 AD). The name of Tabot originates from the Arabic word of Tabut which means wooden box or case to enclose something holy in it (the book of Taurat). But, even if it is really the part of shi’ah ritual in Bengkulu, the shi’ah followers are only a few in numbers in Bengkulu.

By the way, its just my opinion that the tabot events is part of many Bengkulu culture heritage which is connected to the importance of gathering people in large numbers in one place at the imperialism era around 18th century. It was a mean of our founding fathers to communicate and to tell to people of Bengkulu at that time how sad it is to lose the one they really love caused by disintegration, so don’t ever let it happen to our country. So, i think this was their way to ask people to struggle for independence at that time. Maybe...

Preparing the traditionanl drum (dol) for contest in Menjara procession

There are some events which attracting people to come at night time in tabot festival. One of them is the the dol contest among tabot groups in the procession called "Menjara". Dol is a traditional music instrument from Bengkulu-Indonesia. It is a typical of percussion instrument which shaped like a big drum. Dol is made of wood which is pierced in the middle and then covered with cow husk. Its diameter is about 70 - 125 cm, and its beater appliance has 5 cm in diameter and 30 cm in length. The way of using it is by lapping it. Dol is the official instrument to accompany the Tabot event. More about dol you can view in my older post here.
Menjara event will be held at 6th and 7th day of tabot festival. This event usually starting by preparing the Dols which will be used in contest by heating them. After all the preparation complete, groups of tabots will visit other groups to go on contest. The sound of this contest is very amazing.
Other events which will be held at night are various cultural competition to accompany the tabot festival such as regional dance contest, dol instrument contest and others. These competition are not part of the ritual, but they are being held to participate in displaying the richness of cultural heritage of Bengkulu along the festival. 
Giant fish doll and local dance contest coloring the tabot festival

We'll be honored for your visiting  Bengkulu Indonesia on 27 November to 6 December 2011

So, do not miss the upcoming event of tabot in Bengkulu Indonesia on this 27 November to 6 December 2011. I will meet you there.

Copyright 2011 (c) nurul iman supardi
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Related Post :

Traditional Dance rehearsal

Dancing Contest at Tabot Festival

Bengkulu Nights at Tabot Festival

Sound of Dol (traditional drum)

Tapak Paderi Beach

Pulau Tikus Island

Long Beach

Jakat Beach


  1. Keren, kak Iim. Pake kamera apo nih?

    Senang ado photo blog macam punyo kak Iim. Sayang jauh dari Bkl, kalu idak bisa jugo lah kito belomba posting foto tentang Bkl supayo banyak orang yang tahu kalu Bkl kito jugo enak dipandang dan perlu... :)

    Herman Serunai

  2. Kamera digital biaso bro. Kunjungi jugo, disitu informasi kamera nyo ado

  3. Baiklah. Senang nengok foto-foto Bengkulu ko. Nanti diseleksi lau jadikan buku tentang Bengkulu dari jendela bidik seorang Nurul Iman Supardi.

    Kalau dulu aku sempat punyo ide utk membuat buku kumpulan tulisan para blogger Bkl tentang kebudayaan dan masyarakat kito, tentu baik jugo kalu ado foto2 Bkl yang jugo dalam bentuk buku untuk dikenalkan ke khalayak luas. Biar banyak wisatawan datang, semakin bergairah tumbuh kembang perekonomian lokal karena pengaruhnyo yang luas.

    Nanti kapan-kapan ambo balik bolehlah kito ngobrol yo, kak.

  4. Salam kenal dan salam persahabatan. Fotonya keren loh....makasih. Kalau ada waktu silahkan berkunjung ke: OBYEKTIF.COM

    Salam kompak:
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