BENGKULU PROVINCE - SUMATRA ISLAND
The province of Bengkulu was established in 1968.The capital city is Bengkulu.
Bengkulu became the location where Sukarno (the first president of Indonesia)
was exiled by the Dutch in 1938. He was remained there until the arrival of
Japanese in 1941. Sukarno designed the Jamik Mosque. One of the special events
in this province is the Tabot Festival. It is known as the festival of fifty
colorful towers (tabots), which are made of bamboo and decorated with colored
paper. This festival is attributed to the heroism of Hassan and Hussein, the
grandsons of the Prophet Mohammed. Other interesting places are Panjang Beach
and the lake of Dendam Tak Sudah.Bengkulu's history is been a difficult one,
filled with changing colonial rulers, internal Sumatran wars, disease and
exploitation of the indigenous peoples. It was the site of Sir Stamford Raffles
first entry into Indonesia and there are still remains
of British influence in the area.The primary crops of the area are pepper,
coffee, nutmeg and sugar cane.
Bengkulu Province is easily accessible by land, air and sea transportation. You
can catch regular buses direct from Medan, Padang or Jakarta. Flights arrive
three times a day. Domestic ships from Jakarta, Padang and Medan stop over in
Baai harbour, Bengkulu.
Malay Culture - Traditional Ceremony - Other Malay Traditional Ceremonies-The
Ritual of Tabot, Bengkulu.
The Ritual of Tabot, Bengkulu.
The Ritual of Tabot, Bengkulu.
1. The origin of Tabot
The ritual of Tabot is part of Bengkulu people tradition to memorize the
tragical event of the death of the grandson of the prophet Muhammad PBUH, Husein
bin Ali Bin Abi Thalib, in the battle versus the troop of ‘Ubaidillah bin Zain
in Karbala, Iraq, on 10 Muharam 61 Hijriyah (681 C.E.). This ritual is held for
about 10 days, every Muharram first to tenth. Therefore, at the beginning, the
core of the ritual Tabot is to memorize the attempt of a Syi‘ah leader and his
followers in collecting the part of Husein‘s cutting body, to accompany the
procession and to burry him in savannah of Karbala.
The word of Tabot is derived from an Arabic word tabut, which literally means
“wooden box” or “case”. In Quran the word of Tabot is known as a case containing
the Book of Taurat. Israeli at that time believed that they would get the
virtuous if the Tabot appeared in the hand of their leader. Contrarily, they
would get disaster if the staff loosed.
There is no written proof since the ritual of Tabot began to be known in
Bengkulu. However, it is strongly assumed that the tradition which start from
the mourn ritual of Syi‘ism follower was brought by the skilled laborers
building Marlborought Fort (1718-1719 C.E.) in Bengkulu. The skilled laborers
were taken here by England from Madras and Bengali, south of India who were also
the follower of Syi‘ah.
The workers, who are appropriate with Bengkulu People‘s way of life, led by Imam
Senggolo (Syekh Burhanuddin), decided to live and build a new settlement called
Berkas, currently known as Kelurahan Tengah Padang. The tradition coming from
Madras and Bengali was bequeathed to their descendant who has made assimilation
with original Bengkulu people and produce the descendant known as Sipai people.
The mourn tradition taken from the country made assimilation and acculturation
with the Bengkulu people culture, and then was bequeathed and institutionalized
become what then is known as Tabot ritual. This Tabot ritual is more and more
extent from Bengkulu to Painan, Padang, Pariaman, Maninjau, Pidie, Banda Aceh,
Meulaboh, and Singkil. But furtherly the Tabot ritual activities disappeared in
many places. Finally, it was just remained in two places, in Bengkulu known as
Tabot and in Pariaman Sumbar (coming into that place about 1831 C.E.) known as
Tabuik. Both is similar, but the way of performing is rather different.
If Tabot ritual (Tabuik) is used by Syi‘ah people at the beginning to memorize
the death of Husein bin Ali bin Abi Thalib, the ritual is performed only for the
duty of family to fulfill the message of their forefathers since the people of
Sipai free from the effect of the doctrines of Syi‘ah. Recently, since a recent
decade, besides performing the message of forefathers, this ritual is also meant
as the participation of Sipai people in forming and developing local culture of
The Process of Throwing Tabot (Tabuik) To The Sea (Pariaman, West Sumatra)
The socio-cultural condition of people seem to be also the reason of appearing
the difference in the way of performing the Tabot ritual. In Bengkulu, for
instance, the number of Tabot is 17 which referes to the number of person in
earlier family performing Tabot; but in Pariaman is only two sorts of Tabot
(Tabuik), tabuik Subarang and Tabuik Pasa. The place of throwing Tabot (Tabuik)
is different between both, Bengkulu and Pariaman. At the beginning, Tabot of
Bengkulu is thrown in marsh located at around the place Imam Senggolo (Syekh
Burhanuddin) is burried.
Recently, a lot of criticism from various society elements due to the
implementation of the Tabot ceremony. The very basic criticism is the changing
of the Tabot ceremony function from the ritual activity that has a religious
nuance to become simply a cultural festival. This likely because of fact that
people performing the Tabot ceremony are non-Syiah. The loss of the sacred
values of the Tabot ceremony is worsened progressively by what is then known as
Tabot development (Tabot which is created by government in big number).
2. The Equipments
To perform the Tabot ceremony, there are some equipments that have to be
- Making of Tabot
There are some equipments needed to make the Tabot: bamboo, rattan, pasteboard
paper, paper of mar-mar, paper of grip, string, knife carve, picture appliances,
flashlight, decorative lamp, bogainvillaea, flower of plastic and etc. If it is
calculated from the number of the equipment needed, the expense required to make
Tabot is around 5-15 million rupiah.
- Offerings and Kenduri.
Materials used to make offerings and kenduri are: sticky rice, gold banana,
suggar cane, gingger, dadeh, palm sugar, sand sugar, coconut, chicken, flesh,
ripe flavour, incense, and etc.
- Tabot Music
Castanetss which are usually used in ceremony of Tabot is dol and tessa. Dol is
made of wood which is pierced in the middle and then covered with cow husk. Dol
is like drum in form. 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. The tessa is like rebana, made of copper, plate iron or alumunium,
and also can be made of frying-pan that its surface is covered with dried goat
- Other Equipments
Other equipments which must be prepared in each unit of Tabot is : red and white
flag household size measure including its pillar, blue or green chromatic
pennons flag which is bigger than flag of red-white, whiteflag which is equal to
panil in its size (along with its pillar), lance which has double eye (sharp
side) and in its back part is hung by a duplicate sword of zulfikar (sword of
Rasulullah) in mini size.
3. The Way of Performing the Ceremony
Ritual of Tabot shall be drawn as following steps: taking land, sit penja,
menjara, meradai, pageant of penja, turban pageant, Gam, huge pageant, and
a. Mengambik Tanah (Taking Land)
Taken land has to contain magical element, therefore it has to be taken from
sacred places. There‘s only two places assumed as the sacred places in Bengkulu,
keramat tapak padri that is located in waterfront, nearby to the Marlborough
fortress in the right corner of Bengkulu harbor, and Keramat Anggut which is
located in public funeral of Pasar Tebek nearby monument of Hamilton, nearby to
the coast of Nala. This ceremony takes place at night of 1 Muharam at around
The taken land is stored in Gerga (center of activities/ group station of
Tabot), formed like human being doll, and wrapped with white winding sheet, then
put down in Gerga. The eldest Gerga in Bengkulu are only two, those are Gerga
Berkas (Bind) and Gerga Bangsal (Barn). Both have been renovated and now they
become a permanent building.
At both places, they put offering (sesajen) in the form of: red and white
mushes, demerara, 7 sheets of sirih, 7 bars of smoke nipah, a cup of black
coffee, a cup of irrigate serbat, a cup of curd (ox milk of murni raw), a cup of
sandalwood water, a cup of sweet basil and water.
b. Duduk Penja (Cleaning Fingers)
Penja is an object made of cupreous, silver or copper in form of human being
palm complete with its fingers. Hence this penja is referred also with fingers.
According to family of Sipai, the penja is a sacred object containing magical
element in it. It has to be cleaned by lemon water every year. Ceremony of
cleaning the penja is called as duduk penja, which is conducted in 5 Muharram
around 16.00 p.m.
In the penja ceremony, equipments required are: water mixed with certain
flowers, water lime of nipis, sesajen (offering), and penja which will be
cleaned. Offerings drawn up compose: 1 portion of kebuli rice, 1 saucer of rice
chips emping, 1 comb of emas banana, 1 cutting of tebung, a glass of black
coffee, a glass of serobat water, and a glass of curd.
c. Menjara (Mengandun)
Menjara is to pay a visit or visit other group for contesting dol, a kind of
drum made of wood, which is made a hole in its middle and also closed over with
This activity is performed in 6th and 7th of Muharram starting at 20.00 or 23.00
p.m. In Muharram 6th, the group of Tobat Bangsal visit group of Tobat Barkas,
while in Muharram 7th the group of Tobat barkas visit the group of Tobat
Bangsal. This activity take place at the open yard provided by each group.
d. Meradai (Collecting Fund)
The Meradai is taking fund by jola (a Malay word which means one who has
responsible to take fund for the social activity) consisting of children in the
age 10-12 year. This rite is conducted in Muharram 6th at about 07.00-17.00 p.m.
The location of taking fund usually has been agreed by each group of Tabot.
The required equipments are: pennon flag, lance with double eye, bag or kambut,
grist sack, and tessa.
e. Penja Procession (Arak Jari-Jari).
Penja procession or Arak Jari-Jari is a program of fingers procession put down
in Tabot on every main roads of Bengkulu city. This rite is performed at the 8th
night of Muharram, at around 19.00 p.m. and will end at about 21.00 p.m.
The required equipments used as offering materials are : 1 portion of kebuli
rice, a glass of black coffee, a glass of serobat water, an omellette, 7 types
of lauk (side dishes especially meat or fish served with rice).
f. Turban Procession (Mengarak Sorban)
The turban procession is the event of Penja Procession added with white turban
and put down at Coki Tabot (Small Tabot). This Coki Tabot is completed with
flag/blue or green and white chromatic pennons which is written on it the name
of “ Hasan and Husain” with beautiful Arabic calligraphy. This activity is
performed at 9th night of Muharram around 19.00-21.00 p.m.
As it is reflected from its name, the required equipments in this event are the
Tabot and Seroban. In addition, it is also needed a special fabric and Coki
Tabot (monarchic chair/ throne).
g. Gam (Calm/ Mourning)
One of the steps in ceremony of Tabot which must be adhered is “ gam”. Gam is
time which is free from any activity. Gam is derived from word “ghum” which
means closed or blocked. On 9 Muharram is the period of this gam, from at 07.00
to 16.00 p.m. that all of the activities related to the ceremony of Tabot
including sounding dol and tessa are not allowed to be conducted at that time.
Therefore, a period of Gam is also named as a period of calm/ peace.
h. Gedang Procession (Taptu of Akbar)
At 9th night of Muharram around 19.00 p.m., it is performed a discharge ritual
of Besanding Tabot in each Gergas (station). Then, it is continued with
procession of Gedang, that the groups of Tabot parade from each stations through
determined route. Later, they will meet and form a gedang parade (huge parade).
This procession becomes multitude because of uniting groups of Tabot, groups of
entertainment, all of their supporters and also society. This event will end at
around 20.00 p.m. The end of this huge procession rite is marked by gathering of
all Tabots and groups of entertainer in the field of Merdeka Bengkulu (now is
Province Monument Field). Tabots are lined up side by side, which is called
disandingkan (being sat side by side) in local term. Side by side, hence this
event is named by Tabot Besanding.
The required equipment in this rite is a wagon, which is used to transport the
Tabot to an appointed place of Tabot.
i.Tabot Tebuang (Tabot Terbuang)
The last event of ceremony series of Tabot is event of Tabot Tebuang performed
on 10 Muharram. At 09.00 p.m. all Tabots are
gathered in Merdeka field and have sat side by side as night of Tabot Besanding.
At that time, the groups of entertainment will gather in the place and then
entertain all visitors. At about 11.00 a.m., procession of Tabot will be moved
to Teak Field (Padang Jati) and will end in complex of public funeral of
Karabela. This place becomes the rite location of ritual tebuang Tabot because
Imam Senggolo (Sheikh Burhanuddin), exponent of ceremony of Tabot in Bengkulu is
At about 12.30 a.m, the rite of Tabot Tebuang in grave of Senggolo is done.
Because it is considered as a magical loaded
rite, this rite can only be led by the eldest Shaman of Tabot. After finishing
the rituals above, then structure of Tabots are thrown to the marsh beside
mausoleum complex. By casting away Tabot at about 13.30 p.m., so the entire of
the ceremony steps of Tabot is completed.
War of Tabot (Tabuik) in Pariaman, West Sumatera
4. The Prayers and Mantras
Every step in the Tabot ceremony is always started by reading Basmalah and
prayers. These prayers are :
* Grave prayer.
* Prayer to ask His salvation and forgiveness to the soul of moslem people in
* Reciting Tasbih
* Reciting Shalawat Ulul ‘Azmi
* Reciting Sholawat Wasilah
5. The Cultural Values
In general, the performance of Tabot ceremony has two values: religious values
(sacred), and historical and social values. There are religious values (sacred)
in Tabot ceremony that can be taken : first, a process of taking land, it can
remind human being about the origin of their creation; second, regardless the
opinion that Tabot ritual contains many deviant beliefs of Moslem, such as use
of Qur‘anic verses and reciting mantera-mantera in process of taking land
(mengambik tanah), but the essence is to awake us that religiousity or
spirituality cannot be separated from cultural values; and third, the performing
of Tabot ceremony represents the celebration of people to greet Islamic New
Historical value implied in tradition of Tabot is as a love manifestation and
memorizing the passing away of Prophet Muhammad
PBUH‘s grandson, Husein bin Abi Thalib. He had been killed in Field of Karbela.
The value is also as an expression of hostility to family of Bani Umayyah in
general, and especially Yazid bin Muawiyah as the ruler (chalipate) at that
time, together with Governor of Ubaidillah bin Ziyad commanding in attacking to
Husain bin Ali bin Abi Thalib together with their soldiers. Social values
consisted in it, for example: reminding human being about legalizing practice
with any ways in order to get the top position, and symbolizing the social
A lot of wisdom values can be dug and made to be a base to ford a life, but if
it is not received prudently, the ceremony of Tabot will become simply cultural
festival losing its base meaning. This rite is hilarious in performance
(festival) but losing its spirit.
PLACES OF INTEREST
Bukit Kaba Volcanic Crater
104 km from Bengkulu and about 19 km from Curup, Bukit Kaba lies 1937 m above
sea level. There are two immense sulfuric calderas with twelve active craters.
Beautiful panoramic views and cool mountain air make this a pleasant stop for a
couple of days.
Fort Marlborough was built by the East Indian Company under the leadership of
Governor Joseph Callet. The fort constitutes the strong fort made by British in
the far east after Fort George in Madras, India. Fort Marlborough stand facing
south, and covers the area of 44,100 meter square.. The Fort is typical early
eighteen century, turtle shaped fortification measuring 120.5 m in the width an
overall lenght of 180 m in solid construction by bricks of various sizes, bound
with cement and floored concrete or bricks and tiles. The main part and entrance
of the fort is surrounded by a ditch which is crossed by three bridges. The
interior chambers of the fort functioned as guard rooms or moury, magazine,
prison and stores. It is said that there exist under ground tunnel which enabled
the garnisun to attack the enemy from the rear.
Bung Karno's House in Exile
In the Dutch time(1939-1942), Soekarno (later, he was the first President of the
Republik Indonesia) was ever exiled in Bengkulu. During his exile Soekarno had
stayed in a house located at Anggut Atas and now it is known as Jalan
Soekarno-Hatta Some Soekarno's utensils, bicycle, library, etc. are kept in this
house. During his stay in Bengkulu, Soekarno had designed a mosque which now
days known as Masjid Jamik (Jamik Mosque).
Parr and Hamilton Monuments
Parr Monuments is located in the front of Pasar Barukoto across the Fort
Marlborough, while Hamilton Monuments is located on Jalan Soekarno-Hatta. This
monument was built by the British for the memorial of their death in Bengkulu.
Bengkulu Province Museum
Bengkulu museum is located on the south side of the main road in Bengkulu city,
Pembangunan St. Here, you can see an extensive collection ranging from
prehistoric stone and ancient bronze drum to wooden models of traditional
houses. Other display include traditional Engganese textile and looms of special
interest, the Batik clothes made in Bengkulu called Kain Besurek with design
incorporating Arabic Calligraphy and Majapahit sunburst.
Located 51 km from Curup in Kecamatan Lebong Selatan, this lake is the biggest
in Bengkulu Province with 3 km in length. We can have fishing or boating with a
traditional ship and enjoy the beautiful panorama at once. This lake is also
used as water electricity power plant which supply Curup and its around, even
for Bengkulu city. Other attractive ones from this area are friendly people with
their traditional life and particular grandstand, the richful culture of
original dances and songs with community original costume as the background. On
the way to Curup from Bengkulu, we will pass Bukit Barisan range and the tourism
foret called Bukit Daun. In this location we can hear the sound of wild animals
like birds, siamang, and others. This location is usually used as the resting
place where we can see the panorama of Bengkulu and Indonesian Ocean, as well as
the sunset in the afternoon.
Kepala Curup Waterfalls
Located 29 km from Curup with 100m height. It has fresh water and visited by a
lot of people.
Air Putih River
Located at Tambang Sawah, about 15 km from Muara Aman or 80 km from Curup. It is
a recreation place for both local or foreign visitors. The river consists of
cold and hot water.
SOUTH BENGKULU DISTRICT
South Bengkulu District with its capital Manna located 140 km from Bengkulu city
and can be reached by three hours drive. The tourists objects enjoyable to visit
Swallow Nest Cave
The cave is popular called as Suluman Ulu Kedurang, and is located near head of
Kedurang River. This Cave has a beautiful megalithic panorama and individually
unique. This cave can be reached by four-wheel vehicles up to Desa Batu Ampar,
then continued by walking to the location. Besides seeing the unique of the
cave, we also can find the traditional life of Kedurang community in all
villages located in this area. The people is very familiar to the visitors who
come in their area.
This beach is located at the side of the road, 20 km away from Bintuhan,
kecamatan Kaur Selatan, next to the province border between Bengkulu and
Lampung. It is a covered gulf, the water in this area is clean and calm, so that
we can see clearly the colorful of coral sea and sea water fish live in this
area from the surface. The British inheritance which popular as Lanau Fortress
is found in height of 200 m above sea level and next from the beach.
Way Hawang Beach
Located at 6 km from linau Beach. Beside the beautiful panorama, we also can see
the sunset in the afternoon and the traditional life of indigenous people who
lived in this area with their original friendliness.
NORTH BENGKULU DISTRICT
North Bengkulu District with its capital Arga Makmur which is 75 km away from
Bengkulu. It has also some interesting tourist object to visit.
Muko-Muko Beach and Fortress Anne
Muko-muko Beach is located at Kecamatan Muko-muko Utara which share the border
with the West Sumatera province and Jambi province. The distance between this
area and the city of Bengkulu is 276 m, connected by good asphalt road and a lot
of 4-wheels vehicles transportation available. This beach is located in the
conjunction between two big river estuary, Manjuto River and Salagan River.
There are spruce-firs grow along the beach where the tourist can have swimming,
sun-bathing or fishing in the conjunction. In close distance from the beach,
near Air Salagan bridge, you can find a British inheritance fort called Fortress
Even thought its location faced directly to the city of Bintuhan, Enggano Island
is included to Kabupaten Bengkulu Utara. To visit the island, we can use a ship
which is served by PT. PELNI or rent the available small ship in port of
Bintuhan. The traditional costume of the community, similar to those who live in
the island of Pacific Ocean, can be seen in Enggano Island. Moreover, the forest
in this area is still in virgin condition of tropical rain forest. We can see
the water buffalo which can be hunt and shot. Others that can be enjoyable are :
The Beautiful Enggano Beach Sea garden of Enggano Island, located at the group
of atol around this island where we can see the life of the colorful sea coral
and sea water fish, even from the sea surface.
Tourism and Conservation Forest Hunting Park of Gunung Nanu'ua, with area of
10,000 ha and wild buffaloes as hunted animals. Fascinating Dance of Enggano
Island Native People Original dance of Enggano's people with their specific
dress. Diving and ocean park a natural view of beautiful shallow coral sea.
A wide lake just near the sea and located in Desa Padang Betuah, Kecamatan
Kerkap about 28 km away from Bengkulu. The tourist can enjoy the beauty of
nature around the lake by boating
Raflessia Arnoldy Flower
During the British occupation priod. this flower was discovered for the first
time by Sir Thomas Raffles and Dr. Arnoldy in Dusun Lubuk Tapi in 1818. It is
the biggest flower in the world with its 100 cm of diameter. This flower needs 6
to 8 months for building and 15 day later for blossoming. The unique of this
flower is the fact that it has no root, leaf, and trunk. It is a parasite since
this flower has no chlorophyl and haustoria. This flower might be found in
several locations in Bengkulu province.
Kibut Flower (Amorphopalus Titanuum)
This flower is beautiful and interesting. It has no stem with high and strong
flower and about three meter high. This kind of flower grows in some areas such
as in Rejang Lebong around Kepahyang, North Bengkulu, and South Bengkulu.
Vanda Hookeriana Water Orchid
According to botanists who has come to Bengkulu, this water orchid was only in
the bank of Danau Dendam Tak Sudah which is located 5 km from Bengkulu city.
Some other kinds of wild or natural orchid could also be found in Bengkulu
So many kind of forest richness are found the Bengkulu Province such as Kayu
Medang, Meranti, Rattan, Damar. Other kind of plantation which are cultivated by
the society are oil palm, rubber, coffee, clove, durians, orange, vegetables,
Some animals such as tiger, deer, elephant, monkey, rangkong are the kinds of
animals that host in Bengkulu Province forest.
This Park is located around Enggano Island, and Teluk Linau with the beautiful
rock and colorful sea fish that can be seen from the sea surface.
Accommodation - Places To Stay in
- Sumatra Island
Hotel Cempaka Raya
Hotel Lintas Alam
Hotel Samudra Dwinka
Hotel Pantai Panjang
Hotel Rio Garden