Riau is a province located in the middle of the island of Sumatra, Indonesia. Many local and international tourists visit this province and their main destination is the Kuantan Singingi district. Every year there is a festival held in Kuantan Singingi called Paju Jalur. In the Riau language, Jalur means a wooden boat, 40-50 m long and 1.25 m wide.
In the past, Kuantan Singingi could only be reached by waterway using the jalur, because the roadway had not been developed. The jalur is still preserved by the local people, because it represents the cultural identity of the Kuantan Singingi society in ancient times. Today, the jalur is used for sports. The jalur is decorated with carvings such as dragon or snake carvings which symbolizes the owner social status.
At first this sport was held in villages along Kuantan Rivers, during Muslim feasts. But now, Paju Jalur is held on Indonesia’s Independence Day.
Paju Jalur has been known worldwide and followed by Jalur athletes from Kuantan to Pekanbaru, with many tourists participating in the race. The race is for men aged 15 – 40 years old. Each group makes their own boat. Each Jalur contains 40 – 60 people (depending on the length of the boat). Each person in the group has a different duty:
1. The Dancers
Each track has a dancer who stands on the front lines. The dancers must be around 15 years old. The dancers begin dancing when their lajur becomes the fastest.
The concang stand in the middle of the lajur while carrying a whistle and buckets. He has the duty of encouraging the rowers and removing the water that comes into the boat.
The onjai stands in the back part of the lajur. The Onjai has to provide the rhythm, so the rower will be faster when rowing.
4. Pinggang or the Waist
The waist consists of 2 – 3 people. They direct the steering.
The jockey is a rower who paddles as hard as possible at the same time and in accordance with the orders of the onjai.
Each winner gets prizes according to his ranking. The prizes are cattle and money. For first place, the winner will receive a Piala Bergilir (Rotating Trophy) and if their team won first place for 3 years in a row, they will get a Piala Tetap (Fixed Trophy). One positive value we can take from this sports competition is the cohesiveness of the team.
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