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Pacu Jawi (Cow Race) 2023

An extreme tradition to celebrate the rice harvest


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Pacu Jawi translates from Indonesian as 'fast bull' and is an extreme event that has several purposes. Firstly, it's a way to plough the paddy fields, secondly, it's a celebration of the rice harvest and, at last, it's an opportunity for the locals to demonstrate the strength of their bulls and to get more money for them.

The race is very muddy and extreme but it only helps the sellers to show off their cattle. Two bulls wear a wooden contraption on which the jockey stands while holding onto the animals' tails. Sometimes the jockeys even bite the tails to make the bulls go even faster. The animals also tend to separate sometimes so jockeys often get stretched to the extreme which makes holding on even more challenging. At the end, the winning pair of jawi can be sold for several hundred or even thousands of dollars.

The event is very popular both among locals and tourists and is a must if you happen to be on Sumatra. The race takes places almost every weekend in one of the 14 subdistricts of the Tanah Datar regency.

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