Isen Mulang Cultural Festival goes Virtual: Explore the Rich Culture of Central Kalimantan

Central Kalimantan, which is dominated by the indigenous Dayak tribes, is known as the lung of the world due to its vast and fertile tropical rainforest. The northern mountain chain, the Schwaner Range, is home to some of the most pristine forests in the entire island of Kalimantan. Its capital, Palangkaraya is the natural starting point to explore the region, having numerous daily flights to and from Java as well as other parts of the archipelago.

As always, the festival will feature a wide range of art and cultural performances, games, and competitions, as well as the Central Kalimantan Tourism Beauty Pageant.

In the local language, “Isen Mulang” means “never retreat”, which is the motto of Palangkaraya that illustrates the courage of its people. The festival itself is held annually to promote the province’s unique and diverse culture and to inspire youth and local artists to continuously preserve a cultural legacy for the next generations.

Isen Mulang Festival also holds an exhibition that promotes regional produce and handicraft made with regional resources: a wide range of local food and snacks (including a grand food baking competition) as well as clothes and wicker items. Also presented are the traditional Manyipet, a local blowpipe, and the Gasing, a spinning top, as well as a fascinating but serious game of ‘fireball football’ (Sepak Sawut), which sees teams compete on a small sized football field with coconuts that are literally doused in petrol and set alight!

Isen Mulang means to never give up and strive to achieve. The “new normal” regulation, has driven adjustments but positively pushed the Dayak community being extra thoughtful of helping one another to survive.

The festival fosters the spirit of the Dayak people; to unite, build together, tolerate, and respect the indigenous culture. Aside from personifying the Dayak’s unique culture, this festival is held to raise funds to help communities of local artists and the tourism services, such as the local guides, cooks, and boat drivers in Central Kalimantan who have lost their primary sources of income due to the closing of national parks, as well as the provincial and international borders. A lot of people responded very enthusiastically and excited to participate and watch the festival again since they miss having cultural events online. 

Dayak is the name of a native group in the island of Kalimantan or Borneo, who currently still live in the inner parts of the island. The indigenous Dayak tribe has a maritime culture because their names have a lot of meaning and are related to rivers based on the many rivers found in deep parts of Kalimantan. There are various Dayak tribes, and Yun mentioned Dayak Ngaju, Dayak Maanyan, Dayak Siang, etc. have joined forces to showcase their captivating ancient art and way of life.

Viewers may not physically witness the live performances, but seeing this series of online virtual experiences comprising of Dayak music, dance, and storytelling performances, as well as sports and traditional games, are still engaging. It is quite difficult to make a virtual shift, but they still follow the government’s regulations and they also manage the schedule for the performers so that they gather based on their given schedule to avoid major crowds in every session.

Let’s take a virtual journey here

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