A young girl led a team of five children on the traditional tug of war rope game. “Come on, pull harder!” she shouted to her friends, but seconds later, she stumbled and fell to the ground. People who were cheering for their children at the game then burst out laughing.
At a different neighborhood, two young girls, who were in a sack, hopped and jumped their way to the finish line. People named the game as 'sack-race' or balap karung as it is known in the Indonesian language. The rule was simple: Whoever reached the finish line first in the sack, was the winner.
Children and adults engaged in the fun and games were a common view in neighborhoods around the cities and suburbs during Independence Day commemorated every August 17.
Every year, ideas on organizing new competitions and games were thrown up, but for many, the traditional games such as pulling the rope, and sack-race were always a part of the celebrations.
“This neighborhood organizes the fun and games only on Independence Day. The community here and I already have been doing this for 26 years. We never get bored because the games are amusing, yet it teaches us to relive the struggles of our heroes,” said Feri, a respected member of the RW18 neighborhood, Kebon Sirih, Jakarta, Saturday.
Despite their entertainment value, the pulling-rope game and sack-race also demonstrated pictures of struggle to the children.
“Therefore, we could show our children the hardships of our heroes during their fight for independence,” he explained.
The children appeared to have imbibed their lessons from these games. A group of children who had pulled the rope said that strong teamwork and hard effort were the two key takeaways for victory. For them, the game could be similar to the struggle for Independence.
“We might not be celebrating our Independence Day if there had been no teamwork among the heroes. They must have worked together,” Putri, an eight-old-year girl who pulled the rope, said.
Besides the lessons of struggle and solidarity among people, the games, according to the organizers, would also serve as a platform for children to start mingling and leaving their phones behind.
“Once in a year, we think our children should engage in games in the open instead of being holed up with their phones,” said Nurminah, a mother of two, who organized the events in her neighborhood.