Part I

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Tuesday, 21 May 2019

The Central Lombok regency of West Nusa Tenggara is gearing up for the Bau Nyale Festival, a folk festival that celebrates the annual appearance of the nyale sea worms along Seger Beach at Lombok's Kuta village in the Pujut district. This year, the local ethnic Sasak group has decided that the festival be held on 28 February, being the 20th day of the 10th month in the Sasak calendar.

For the people on the beautiful island of Lombok, the Bau Nyale Festival is an age-old tradition that is closely linked to the legend of Princess Mandalika. According to local legend, Princess Mandalika of the Tunjung Beru kingdom was a very beautiful. Her father, King Seg held a contest for young men to fight for his daughter's hand in marriage.

However, Mandalika herself was opposed to fighting and bloodshed between kingdoms in her name. So she plunged herself into the sea, advising the community in Lombok to live in peace and promised to return on the 20th day of the 10th month in the Sasak calendar. On that long-awaited day, only the glowing nyale worms could be seen everywhere on the sea and so the people believed that the worms were the reincarnation of Princess Mandalika.

Bau Nyale is a tradition of Lombok residents living along the south coast, to catch nyale worms, particularly those who follow the Wetu telu faith. The ceremony is indeed quite unique. Nyale appears once a year at Kuta beach and Seger beach normally around February during the rainy season. They appear for two to three nights only, precisely at the time before dawn. Although the elders always say that they can predict precisely the appearance of the worms, but most of the time the predictions miss by one day, sometimes even by a week.

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