Batik Day: traditional Indonesian holiday celebrated in Davis

Batik Day: traditional Indonesian holiday celebrated in Davis

Photo Credits: KATHERINE FRANKS / AGGIE

Oct. 5th holiday meant to celebrate traditional garment, culture, community

Taste of Thai, located in Downtown Davis, held a celebration for Batik Day — one of Indonesia’s holidays — on Saturday, Oct. 5. The Indonesian Student Association, known as PERMIAS amongst its members, filled the restaurant’s main dining area dressed in colorful garments to celebrate the traditional holiday.

The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared Indonesian Batik as a masterpiece of oral and intangible heritage of humanity in 2009. The organization works to preserve cultures and traditions under the threat of extinction. All cultures that are selected are chosen because they contribute to the “cultural diversity of humanity,” according to UNESCO’s website. The official holiday is Oct. 2, but the Davis community chose to celebrate on Oct. 5. 

Aldi Wibowo, a second-year electrical engineering major, is the president of PERMIAS. This holiday holds a significant amount of meaning for her, and she explained the celebration stands for the day when the UN recognized Batik as a world heritage culture. 

Wibowo, who was elected in May 2019, said the society has continued the tradition of celebrating this day here in Davis as members in previous years have done in an attempt to promote their goals as a society.

“We have three main goals,” Wibowo said. “Our first goal is to gather our members at UC Davis so that every Indonesian can meet and socialize with each other. Our second goal is to interact with other Indonesian student associations, like the ones located in San Francisco and the Bay Area. And our third goal is to promote Indonesian culture and heritage to UC Davis. This is actually one of the only events we have to commemorate our culture; it reminds us of our roots. I think it shows our pride as Indonesians; it is a main part of our culture and in Indonesia it is worn a lot.” 

Batik is both an art and a craft, according to a website dedicated entirely to the creation of the garment. More specifically, it is a unique way in which clothing is decorated. Wax is dripped onto a piece of cloth, which is then colored with dyes. Once the cloth is dry, the wax is peeled off to reveal a distinctive pattern underneath. 

For second-year design major Vania Sutandi, the piece of clothing reminds her of her former home in Indonesia. She commented on the garment’s popularity and explained that because of its widespread recognition, many designer brands are trying to adapt the traditional clothing style for teens. It is not just the creative style that unites people — it is also the meaning behind the clothing. 

“On work days — mostly Friday — everyone wears Batik,” Sutandi said. “It is a celebration of Indonesian art. It is very unique and something you think of when you think of Indonesia.” 

Indonesian pride is something that PERMIAS strives to celebrate at their different events such as Batik day. Moreover, they are seeking to create a community and to bond through their mutual culture. Such is the case for Matthew Kuangga, a third-year computer science major who enjoys being able to see his friends and hang out with them on a day that means so much to all of them.

“You are far away from home and trying to adjust to life here,” Kuangga said. “It is nice to have connections from home. It’s kind of like a secret society of people like us, when we meet each other there are kind of like some indo vibes.” 

For most of the members of the Indonesian Student Association, the Batik Day celebration is not just an excuse to get together with friends and eat out, but as Sutandi puts it, it also means “having a piece of Indonesia, here in Davis.”

Written by: Isabella Beristain — features@theaggie.org