“The dish that I was so lucky to come across on that particular day was Sayur Panglimpeh, which consisted of boiled egg, fried tofu, and fried chicken head in coconut milk sauce.“
This country of ours is well known for its cultural diversity – approximately 300 different ethnic groups have been recorded, each with its own language, dialect, customs, and traditions. This heterogeneity is a unique characteristic that we ought to accept as a gift, as not many other countries boast such a remarkable feature.
During a recent trip to the island of Lombok, I was fortunate enough to have chanced upon Begibung in the village of Sade – a traditional ritual of the island’s locals that involves eating together to celebrate a memorable day, such as a wedding, for example. What piqued my interest, as someone who works for Good Indonesian Food, were the mouth-watering dishes prepared for the occasion – besides the cultural value, of course.
Now, Begibung is mainly a tradition that is still celebrated by the Sasak people, who are indigenous to Lombok. Since Sade is predominantly inhabited by those of Sasak heritage, the island’s age-old customs are still preserved and have been assimilated into their daily lifestyle. They still live in wooden Sasak houses that are covered with thatched roofs. One of the locals who took me around the village informed me of a bizarre ritual that sees locals mopping the floor to their house using cow dung once a week. It is believed that this could help strengthen the house’s clay-based floor and enhance its durability.
Back to the topic at hand, the Begibung that I stumbled upon was held inside one of the souvenir shops in Sade. The food were placed on a tray and set down on the floor, along with a stack of plates. The dish that I was so lucky to come across on that particular day was Sayur Panglimpeh, which consisted of boiled egg, fried tofu, and fried chicken head in coconut milk sauce. Many of the villagers were gathered around the shop waiting to consume the prepared fare for the occasion together. It turns out that for this instance, the Begibung was intended to celebrate Mawlid – the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. “Nasi Kuning would usually be dished out in wrappers after the main meal,” says Sofyan, my local tour guide. “Not all villages in Lombok hold Begibung for Mawlid on the exact same day, though. But they are conducted within the same month.”