Beautiful lineup of handmade batik, kebaya and batik-patterned accessories can be seen immediately as soon as you step into the crowded entrance of Box Hill Townhall located at 1022 Whitehorse Road, Box Hill 3128. As a celebration of the annual “Hari Sumpah Pemuda” and the solidarity and integrity of community network and friendship, Indonesian Food & Trade Festival has brought together various members of the Indonesian community from all around Melbourne into an annual event which showcases the culture, cuisine and fashion of Indonesian culture in the bustling community of Box Hill. This year, however, there is a slight difference compared to the previous years. Instead of being held in the morning from 11:00 A.M. to 5 P.M., this year the celebration starts from 2:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. When asked about the change in the time, Ibu Yuli Muntari, one of the members of PERWIRA answered that “it is simply to test if people prefer an evening session more than an afternoon session.” From the look of it, it might just be the case!

With six different food and drink stalls in the main hall and a group of talented performers preparing to perform on stage, the festival was set to begin. Visitors needed to pay only a small AUD 3.00 entrance fee and they would get to enjoy the full experience of the festival. For food lovers, each stall sold different menus ranging from the classic chicken satay to the roasted duck on rice, a staple reminiscent of Bali’s betutu chicken. Or, if you prefer a lighter meal, you could also opt for some other choices as well such as corn fritter, deep fried tofu, bubur sumsum and lupis. Or, if you were looking to purchase a new dress or shirt for yourself, you could drop by the batik stall found next to the entrance. There was also a raffle stall for you who were interested in trying your luck for a round trip ticket via Garuda Indonesia. With so many choices, it is of little wonder that the festival was soon full of visitors curious to find out more.

Visitors were also entertained and kept busy with beautiful performances by talented musicians, poets, dancers and martial arts fighters throughout the evening. The bank OJWM (Orkes Jawi Waton Muni) graced the festival with a range of popular classic and modern music while the Dharma Wanita Persatuan’s Angklung band performed beautifully on stage. The performance was then followed by graceful dances by the group dance performance of Sanggar Sari before continuing with a dance brought by Maria Leeds. With music and dancing checked from the list of event, next was the martial arts performance. Bringing pencak silat on stage, various academies in Melbourne came together to arrange a series of beautiful collaboration and showcase. Young martial artists as young as five years old were also featured as part of the performance. When the young martial artist performance concluded, the session continued with an intense session brought by Merpati Putih Academy. Instead of the usual fight, the academy focused more on channeling inner energy into one fatal strike. To demonstrate this, the academy member managed to slice an iron tool in half as the audience gasped in admiration.

As the day slowly drew to a conclusion, the crowd started to disperse thinner and thinner. However, the singing and dancing went on as visitors were asked to join in the fun and dance together. From the look and smile of the people who came, it was definitely a huge success on the part of the committee. Here’s to yet another fruitful festival in 2020!

Text: Edward Tanoto
Photo: Windu Kuntoro