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Is it a goodbye? Jakarta City council mulls ban on ‘ondel-ondel’ busking

Jakarta’s streets may soon no longer see ondel-ondel (giant Betawi effigies) being paraded by buskers in the capital as the City Council plans to prohibit the use of ondel-ondel in street performances through the revision of a 2015 bylaw on the preservation of Betawi culture.

Iman Satria, the head of the council’s Commission E overseeing people’s welfare, said that the point of the ban was to maintain the spirit of ondel-ondel as an icon of Betawi culture.

“It is to maintain the spirit of ondel-ondel, [which] should not be used for street performance. If it is included in the regulation, those who still do that will count as violators,” Iman said last week as quoted by

The Jakarta Culture Agency is currently making and reviewing academic texts to revise the regional regulation. Sanctions for buskers who use ondel-ondel on the streets will also be included in the revised bylaw.

“We will complete the academic paper first as a prerequisite for the revision. We’ll try to complete it fast,” said Imam Hadi Purnomo, the agency’s secretary.

In the meantime, he said, the agency had been coordinating with heads of districts and sub-districts around the city to set up a plan to urge buskers not to use ondel-ondel in their performances.

Ondel-ondel street performances have for long been a common sight in many corners of the city, where a group of people — including children — walk along the street, with usually one person in the giant puppet costume and another pushing a small cart with a cassette player and a loudspeaker, and the rest carrying buckets asking passersby for money.

Responding to the ban plan, ondel-ondel craftsmen in Ondel-ondel Village in Kramat district, Central Jakarta, expressed their disagreement, saying that they met their daily needs by renting ondel-ondel to buskers.

“We also rent [ondel-ondel] for ceremonial events but not regularly. Renting them to buskers helps us to fulfill our daily needs,” said Renggo, one of the ondel-ondel craftsmen in the village.

Renggo argued that he instead felt proud that buskers used ondel-ondel to get around busking on the streets because in addition to helping them to earn a living, ondel-ondel simultaneously served to promote Betawi culture to the community.

“We are proud of ondel-ondel buskers because they are the ones who preserve ondel-ondel, so that it is widely known to the wider community. They [the city officials] have never done so on the streets,” said Renggo.

Rio, another ondel-ondel craftsman, said that he could accept the ban as long as the city administration had a good solution for the people like himself who used ondel-ondel to make a living.

He expected that when the ban was official, the city could provide a space for ondel-ondel cultivation so the craftsmen would still have jobs.

“Don’t cut it off just like that. We should be given a place in cafes, malls or supermarkets, for us to make money,” Rio said.

He said that the craftsmen so far had never received attention from the city as ondel-ondel had rarely been involved in ceremonial events held by officials.

Therefore, Rio said, the craftsmen were worried that when the ban was imposed and the city did not permit the use of ondel-ondel, they would end up unemployed. (syk)

Artikel ini telah tayang di dengan judul “Is it a goodbye? Jakarta City council mulls ban on ‘ondel-ondel’ busking”,
Penulis : The Jakarta Post
Foto Cover : A craftsman dresses ondel-ondel figures in colorful costumes. JP/David Caessarre (JP/David Caessarre)

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