Thousands of hunters at 2020 Bau Nyale

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(Photo: Pramitha Hendra)

IO – Dawn is still distant as thousands of hunters prepare at the lips of Seger Beach, Central Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, Saturday (15/2) morning. These are tourists who will hunt Nyale, colorful worms that are said to be the embodiment of the beautiful and graceful Princess Mandalika. 

This is the culmination of the series of the 2020 Bau Nyale Festival, which was held since February 8 – a festival that packs cultural treasures on Lombok as a tourist attraction. 

According to folklore, there was a beautiful princess named Mandalika. The news of this princess’s beauty spread throughout the island, so many noble young men fell in love and wanted to marry her. 

Not wanting a war or conflict, Mandalika chose to jump into the sea. Before plunging into the Sea, she had made a promise to visit her people in the form of Nyale. 

The sea worm only appears once a year and is believed to be a form of Mandalika’s visit to her community – and is believed to be a blessing to the local community as well as possessing the power to heal illnesses. 

Since 03.00 AM, tourists have gathered at Seger Beach which is also known as one of the best surfing destinations in Lombok. Nyale hunters come from all walks of life and ages, ranging from children to adults, male and female. There are no restrictions. 

Ignoring the coldness of the seawater, thousands of hunters throw themselves into the rocky coast. Shouts of hunters clash loudly with the waves of the coast of Seger. With the lights mounted on their foreheads or flashlights in their hands, hunters eagerly searched for Nyale. 

When viewed from the top of the hill beside Seger Beach, the view is different again. The lights of their light reveal one another, combined with the moonlight. 

The process of catching Nyale itself is performed by using wood in the form of the letter ‘U’ which is tied with a net behind it. The Nyale that emerged from the reef are then scooped up with the net. 

It takes patience to catch a lot, considering this worm is quite agile and slippery. 

“I get quite a lot of Nyale; I will consume them with my family, once a year,” said Agus, who had come from Mataram City, while showing his catch which contained almost half a bucket of Nyale. 

However, Agus continued, the Nyale he got this time were scarcer than in previous years. 

Nyale itself is so unique, colorful. Nyale also contains high level of protein so it is suitable for consumption. No wonder if there are people who immediately eat it. But some are brought home and cooked to be eaten with the family. 

Usually, people cook it by pressing it in a banana leaf wrapper. Nyale hunting activity is only over after the sun rises. 

Expert Staff of the Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Ari Juliano Gema, while following the Bau Nyale procession observed that this became a unique attraction for tourists to come to West Nusa Tenggara. “The Bau Nyale Festival is an effective way to promote the beauty of West Nusa Tenggara so that it can be an attraction for tourists to come and help inspire the economy of the local community,” said Ari Juliano. (Pramitha Hendra)