Indonesian troupe brings unbroken musical tradition to Pakistan
ISLAMABAD: A fascinating show of traditional Indonesian music was held at the National Art Gallery, Islamabad, highlighting glorious historical socio-cultural bonds between Indonesia and Pakistan. The musical show was yet another successful collaboration of the embassy of the Republic of Indonesia and the Pakistan National Council of the Arts and was organised to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the diplomatic ties between Indonesia and Pakistan.
The government dignitaries, diplomatic community and people from different walks of life attended the event. The musical show featured performance of an Indonesian troupe from the Tanah Karo district of North Sumatra Province. This place is home to the centuries-old enchanting customs and traditions deeply intertwined with religious beliefs and rituals.
One of special characteristics of the Tanah Karo’s culture is the “Perkolong-kolong”. The “Perkolong-kolong” is the specialised musicians and dancers considered essential part of thanksgiving ceremonies, social gatherings and other festivities. The Perkolong-kolong are the centuries-old unbroken musical tradition and sensation of Tanah Karo that continues to fascinate music lovers. This group of Perkolong-kolong was established about 11 years ago and has five members. Arnis Ginting is the music arranger and keyboardist, Dengki Sembiring is the Saruni and Balobat flute player, Endy Sitepu is on the “Gendang Indong” (a set of mini drums played with small sticks to produce beautiful knocking sounds), Agustina Sembiring is their female singer and dancer, and Mulianta Karo-Karo is the male singer and dancer.
An interesting fact about Saruni, the focal musical instrument that featured in the show, was its age: it was made in 1899 (about 113 years back) by the grand-grand-father of Dengki Sembiring, who masterly played mystical tunes to enthrall the audience. For 28 generations, Dengki Sembiring’s family has remained associated with the profession of making and playing Sarunis. Their love and passion for Sarunis is still as young as ever.
Beside the Saruni and the Gendang Indong and other traditional instruments indispensable for the melodic brilliance of Karo music, is the gong with echoing bang.
Indonesian Ambassador Ishak Latuconsina, addressing the audience at the show, said, “I deeply admire the audience’s enthusiastic response, interest and participation.” He said he has always remained a moving force behind the embassy’s continuous efforts to foster the cultural ties between Indonesia and Pakistan. The envoy said that Indonesian culture, which includes traditional ceremonies, dances, dresses, cuisines, language, handicrafts and wealth of cultural heritage, is “the pride of our nation”. The ambassador also talked about the strong momentum of growth in Indonesia-Pakistan relations during the recent years and said that the pragmatic cooperation in various fields, including economic and trade collaboration, investment, education, tourism, culture exchanges, has brought about substantial fruits and strengthened the understanding and friendship between the two countries and their peoples.
The performance started with the instrumental of “Piso Surit” and the presentation of the Uwisgara (long headscarf) by the dancers on behalf of the embassy to honour the guest of honour. The gesture of presentation symbolises warm welcome and deep respect to the guests and expresses strong desire to strengthen relations and friendship. Piso Surit brings sounds of the birds tweeting at the time of sunrise and sunset. That particular bird is found in the Tanah Karo and it’s tweeting is signified as a warm welcome to a new and fresh day and a farewell to the day gone by.
The presentation of the Uwisgara was followed by another interesting ritual of sowing rice by the dancers. The symbolic gesture is carried out to pray God Almighty for His compassion, favours and blessings. The tune of the instrumental is somber and gloomy as it also symbolises the feeling of a person who is lonely and longing to see his or her loved ones.
The captivating sweet melodious song “Lau Bulham” was the next performance while other songs included “Terang Bulan”, “Mbiring Manggis”, “Jeeway Jeeway Pakistan”, and “Dari Sabang Sampai Merauke”, that enthralled the audience and drew rounds of applause from them. The show also featured Pakistani performances of thrilling “dhammal” and evolution medley dance of “Taxila Odyssey” by Pakistani artist that charged the air with excitements. The audience praised the initiative of the Indonesian embassy and PNCA and called for more such programmes.