17th of August
Indonesia Independence Day


The month of August is very special to Indonesian, since we are celebrating our independence day. Patriotic songs can be heard in public places, especially this one:

17 Agustus tahun 45
itulah hari kemerdekaan kita
hari merdeka, nusa dan bangsa
hari lahirnya bangsa Indonesia
MER DE KA ...

The flag of Indonesia

Every Indonesian knows it by heart. In my opinion, it’s the most relevant song for the Indonesia Independence Day in addition to our national anthem: Indonesia Raya.

During the month of August almost all public buildings such as office buildings, schools, hospitals, and shopping malls, even churches are decorated with red and white representing the flag of Indonesia. We will find many street vendors selling the flags, poles, and various red and white decoration on the pedestrian, which help further decorate the streets :) Many shops contribute to the theme by selling  only red, white, and the combination of red and white clothes. Hence, there is sea of red and white everywhere.

Red and white decoration for the celebration of Indonesia independence day
Red and white decoration for the celebration of Indonesia independence day

On August 17, the formal celebration will be flag ceremonies, especially at Istana Merdeka (the presidential palace in Jakarta), every school and government institutions.

It is a national holiday so after the flag ceremony we celebrate the independence day by organizing or participating in the fun competitions. Almost every neighborhood puts together various competitions. The competitions are unique and fun. Usually they are held outdoors. For example: balap karung (racing by jumping in a sack), makan kerupuk (eat dangling cracker, the winner is the one who finishes first), pillow fight (the two contestants sit on a log on top of a pond or mud, the loser is the one who falls), balap kelereng (racing to the finish line with a spoon filled with a marble), tug of war, and many more.

However, the most unique competition associated with Indonesia Independence Day is panjat pinang (climb a pinang pole). Pinang is a type of palma tree, which does not have any branch or twig, which best serve the purpose of this game. Several teams each has their turn to climb an oily tall pinang pole to grab the prizes dangling on top of the pole.

Panjat pinang only held during independence day festival. For the last several years in a row Taman Impian Jaya Ancol holds the record of having the most panjat pinang in one area. Celebrating Indonesia's 72th year of independence, this year Ancol provides 172 poles! They are located at Pantai Carnaval Ancol.

Next to our to do list on the independence day is watching the displays of our alutsista (alat utama sistem pertahanan, free translation in english: the main tool of the defense system). This year Living World Mall together with the Indonesia Army exhibit some of them on their front yard. We are allowed to touch, take pictures, climb them, even ride one of those vehicles.

Indonesia Alutsista (alat utama sistem pertahanan)
Indonesia Alutsista (alat utama sistem pertahanan)
Indonesia Alutsista (alat utama sistem pertahanan)

Final words before we start celebrating Indonesia Independence Day:

DIRGAHAYU REPUBLIK INDONESIA
MERDEKA!

> Indonesia Independence Day