what is Bau Nyale?
Bau Nyale is a unique festival celebrated in Lombok. Lombok’s most popular festival Bau Nyale, means “to catch the sea worms” in the local Sasak language. It is a cultural tradition, deeply rooted in the lives of local inhabitants of Lombok.
Through this post, we wish to bring this festival to the eyes of people across the globe.
History behind Bau Nyale: Folklore from West Nusa Tenggara
Putri Mandalika was the daughter of the king of Tonjang Beru. When she was of suitable age to marry, princes and suitors from all over the island traveled to the kingdom to ask for her hand. So many men wanted to marry her that it began to cause trouble between the different kingdoms and the princess became unable to choose between them and it caused further strife.
For days the princes competed for the princess, leading to tensions and threats of war between the rival kingdoms. Finally the princess’ father gathered all the rivals together and instructed Princess Mandalika to choose her husband before sunrise the next morning.
Thousands of people gathered on what is now called the Seger Beach to witness the princess chose her husband but, fearful of causing a war, Princess Mandalika declared that – even if she loved one of the suitors – she loved her parents and her kingdom too much to cause strife.
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Princess rather than choosing one person, she decided that she would give herself to everyone, she threw herself into the sea from the promontory overlooking Seger Beach and disappeared into the waves.
Everyone searched the sea for the princess, but instead they found masses of colorful sea – worms, called Nyale.
According to local priests, the princess’s body had been transformed into these sea worms, and thus they became a symbol for the Sasak people.
Other legends say that the long strands of the Nyale worms are the princess’s hair, floating in the water where she drowned.
The sea worms are a rare variety of Palolo worm (Eunice viridis) found in tropical waters in certain parts of the world and in Lombok, Sumba and Savu in Indonesia. Once a year, when seasonal, marine and lunar conditions combine, the Nyale come to certain beaches around Lombok to spawn and, for a few days, the seas are filled with wriggling sea worms in a variety of colours, ranging from simple brown or pale cream to red and green.
Come be a part of this festival this year
Bau Nyale, or the Nyale Festival, takes place every year in the tenth month of the Sasak calendar at a time close to the full moon, and was celebrated this year on 14 and 15 February on the south coast beaches of Lombok. The most popular site for celebrating Bau Nyale is at beautiful Seger Beach near Kuta; an area called Putri Nyale (Princess Nyale) by the people of Lombok.
Special thanks to my friend Fauzan Ahmad, a local tour guide from Lombok for the information and photos.
If you wish to be part of this festival, you can write to us, we will be happy to assist.