Rain Shaman Saves #IndonesianGP in Mandalika :
How Indonesians Command
the Nature

How Indonesia Command The Nature
A picture of Rain Shaman at MotoGP 2022 (Twitter/@MotoGP)

After 25 years, Indonesia has become the host of MotoGP 2022, which was held at Pertamina Mandalika International Street Circuit in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara,  from March 18th to March 20th, 2022. Happu Harinto, Director of Strategy and Communication for the Mandalika Grand Prix Association (MGPA), announced in a press statement on Thursday, October 7th, 2021, that this worldwide event has the potential to promote Indonesia’s tourist industry and Pertamina Mandalika International Street Circuit will become a “world-class racing circuit”. Indonesia previously held the 1997 MotoGP race at the Sentul Circuit.

The announcement of Indonesia to host the MotoGP 2022 in the first quarter of the 21st century attracts much attention from both local and foreign tourists. MotoGP stated that The Mandalika Circuit is firmly categorized as “the most beautiful circuit in the world” with their south coast’s pristine beaches and lush green hills surrounding the circuit. The event began with two free practice sessions (FP1 and FP2) on March 18th, had two free practice sessions (FP3 and FP4) before the qualifying session on March 19th, and competed in the primary race on the last day, March 20th, 2022.

Behind the success of the MotoGP 2022, there was one figure who seemed to save the race, which gained international attention. Before the race on the final day was about to start, the rain poured out pretty heavily and caused the event to be halted 1 hour from the schedule. A woman quickly observed the situation to keep the rain from falling. The woman was Rara Istiani Wulandari, known as Mbak Rara, the rain shaman at the MotoGP 2022 in Mandalika. She was seen going around the motorbike racetrack holding a piece of bronze equipment in the shape of a coconut shell called a “singing bowl”. Not long after the ritual, the rain stopped, and the race continued after being halted for 1 hour.

Mbak Rara’s attendance as a rain shaman for the Mandalika 2022 MotoGP is a direct request from the Minister of State-Owned Enterprises (BUMN), Mr. Erick Thohir, She arrived at Mandalika on February 10th, 2022, and a has been said to be in charge of the Mandalika Circuit’s weather. The performance of Mbak Rara caught Dorna TV and MotoGP’s attention and gained praise and criticism from the world’s citizens.

Mbak Rara’s performance to stop the rain at the final day of MotoGP 2022 captured by MotoGP official twitter account.

Even though times have changed, Indonesian people have not abandoned some shamanism practices as a pearl of local wisdom. According to research by Lestrianingsih and Njatrijani, local wisdom is a cultural product of the past, with local values regarded as highly universal and should be utilized to guide living constantly. Rain Shaman is one example.

Rain Shaman or “Pawang Hujan” is a person who is commonly hired for large outdoor events that are believed to have supernatural skills to control the weather. The main task of a Rain Shaman is to ‘move’ or stop the rain at a specific time. Rain Shaman has existed for a long time using prayers and spells from their ancestors in different regions. 

In Indonesia, Pawang Hujan is still believed to have the ability to ‘stop’ the rain. Many outdoor events hire them to ‘protect’ the events from rain. However, the practice of Pawang Hujan does not have any rational explanation behind them, and some occasions prove that sometimes Pawang Hujan fails to stop the rain. Therefore, several environmental local wisdom in Indonesia protects nature and works effectively as environmental conservation using mystical beliefs and philosophy.

Implementation of Environmental Local Wisdom in Indonesia

Every community in Indonesia has its local wisdom, which proved adequate to preserve the environment and ensure compatibility of community and environment. The country’s law states the importance of local wisdom in environmental management in Undang-Undang Nomor 32 Tahun 2009 about Protection and Management of the Environment, which said that the community’s participation and involvement in environmental conservation are essential. Indonesian local wisdom in response to nature itself is proven to be effective in solving the environmental problems in the following examples:

1. Ancestral Message in Tanatowa, Kajang, Bulukumba, South Sulawesi

The Indigenous people in Tanatowa showed a harmonious relationship with the nature inherited from their ancestors, known as an ancestral message that stated that the indigenous would also be destroyed if the earth is destroyed. In response to that message, the people in Tanotawa employ their environmental management system. Cultivation should be shared among other community members; they can cut down trees but should provide replacements. Their ancestors’ environmental wisdom, knowledge, and value are expressed through myths and rituals.

2. Forest Protection by Indigenous People in Baduy, Banten, West Java

The Baduy have a sacred responsibility to protect nature from any changes. To maintain balance and harmony, The Baduy live an effortless lifestyle and are moderate in all things. The Baduy protect nature with doctrine to run their life straight, preserve nature, no more and no less. One of the examples is the way the Baduy respects the forest. They implement taboos for those who want to enter the sacred grove. This has led the forests to be well preserved until the present time.

3. Hindu Philosophy in the Balinese Community

Balinese community applies Hindu philosophy in developing and implementing environmental conservation programs. The Hindu ceremony practiced to maintain and conserve the plants is one example. Almost every district in Bali has a similar sustainable development concept. The implementation of Hindu philosophy helps Bali Community to preserve their nature.

Local Wisdom in Modern Times

Modern development has decreased societies’ interest in tradition or culture. Often people assume that tradition or local culture is incompatible with technological progress . However, the mutual relationship between humans and nature is correlated with the development process. It will have reverse effects on the environment. Therefore, there is a need to balance development and the environment. Local wisdom can be synergized with modern technology in environmental conservation and sustainable development. The function of local wisdom is to maintain a harmonious relationship between humans and the environment and be used as a source of the local community’s life.

According to the Ministry of Environment of Republic Indonesia, culture provides a clear illustration of how to maintain nature continuously. Environmental wisdom can be used as a handbook for communities to implement sustainable development. Hence, the government also needs to make the ecological wisdom as reference material in the development plan.

Mbak Rara’s performance at the MotoGP Mandalika has shown the power of local wisdom to control nature in modern times. Despite the discussions between the MotoGP Mandalika 2022 committees openly using rain shaman in an international event, the performance has been effective as a marketing strategy, and Indonesia’s local wisdom in ecology proved its relevance until now.

Penulis: Fahira Ardini Putri

Reporter: Fahira Ardini Putri

Editor: Fareez Eldacca

Foto: Twitter @MotoGP

Tags: MotoGP, Local Wisdom, Environment, Shamanism

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