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Makepung buffalo races, a burst of energy and competitive spirit

Staff Writer |
Makepung is the name of a major grand prix in Jembrana, West Bali, which features racing buffalo races. Hundreds of pairs of buffaloes are teamed up together with their jockeys.

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They ride the traditional wooden ploughs that are slightly modified for the competition. The racer buffaloes, or kerbau pepadu, compete in various open race circuits in assorted heats.

These series of competitions are held around the district of Melaya. They lead up to the finals, known as the Jembrana Regent’s Cup and the Governor’s Cup.

There are approximately seven different circuits spread out in various locations throughout the district. The Sangyang Cerik circuit in the village of Tuwed, Melaya district is one of the main circuits.

The other dedicated fields-turned-circuits include Delod Berawah, Kaliakah, Pangkung Dalem, Merta Sari, Tuwed and Awen.

On the eve of the finals, there is a gathering among the racing teams called sekaa makepung with the Jembrana regent.

The evening is as festive as the major racing day that follows, being filled with art performances and public entertainment.

On race days, international visitors will also be equally amused by the "buffalo fashion shows". These feature the bovines beautifully and carefully dressed up with ornaments from hoof to horn, in another segment of the "best-dressed" competitions.

The Makepung buffalo races usually commence early mornings at 07:30 with dozens of pairs of pepadu participating. Another hundred or so take part in the "fashion" parade.

The races last for five hours, with the buffaloes divided into three racing divisions.

The dates for each year’s event vary. All usually take place over the weekends on a Sunday morning.

The tentative schedule for the 2018 Makepung buffalo races, based on the Jembrana government tourism office's announcements:

Sunday, 29 July: Sanghyang Cerik, Tuwed Village Circuit
Sunday, 12 August: Mertasari. Loloan Timur Circuit (Bupati Cup)
Sunday, 26 August: Awen, Lelateng Circuit

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