Music, Identities, and Interreligious Relationships at the Lingsar Festival in Lombok, Indonesia
When the final procession was readied at the Lingsar temple festival in 1988, I was surprised to see a leader of the Muslim Sasak faction, Suparman, holding hands with the leader of the Hindu Balinese assemblage, Anak Agung Gede Biarsah, at the front of the line of participants. In earlier conversations, they had both expressed interethnic distrust and proclaimed that their group held the inner position while the other was outer and insubstantial to festival events. And yet, there they were walking hand-in-hand and leading the final procession together as if there were no problems whatsoever. What I was witnessing – as I later realized – was the collapse of contestation into interethnic unity, and what produced this unity was the previous days’ rites and performing arts, which all worked in various ways to construct a bridge to the ancestors, impose a spiritual order and balance on the proceedings and participants, and form a comprehensive union that gradually became palpable. Ultimately, it is this union of complementary dualities (Sasak/Balinese, human/divine, inside/outside, even traditional/modern) that generates the fertility that legitimizes the festival. Though many elements have changed since the 1980s, the goal of union has not. Without it, the festival would either discontinue or radically transform.
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