Today, the entire Indonesia, including Bali, celebrates Independence Day. The proud word "Merdeka" can be seen on numerous banners and posters, and of course, heard on the radio and TV. Even Google doesn't forget to congratulate with its doodle.
Here, people still live who fought for their freedom with their own hands, as the declaration of independence was signed quite recently in historical terms, on August 17, 1945. For a long time, the state was a colony of the Netherlands, and then, in 1942, it was occupied by Japan. The declaration of independence was signed with Japan in the Vietnamese mountain city of Dalat. However, of course, one declaration was not enough, and the struggle for freedom lasted another four long years. The Netherlands were reluctant to part with their colony, and Indonesians had to fight with weapons in their hands for their freedom. Interestingly, another well-known colonial power - Britain - assisted the Netherlands in this endeavor. Eventually, in 1949, they admitted that they couldn't suppress the Indonesian people and withdrew.
Now, little reminds us of the country's difficult history, except for rare traces of colonial architecture, some borrowed words in the Indonesian language, and of course, this holiday. It is celebrated with processions of schoolchildren, students, and various office workers, with flags of the country hung along the roads, on houses, and in squares. By the way, an interesting and rare fact: the flag of Indonesia is identical to the flag of another country - Monaco. Identical flags of different countries are quite rare in the world, but that is, of course, another story.
On this day, students and schoolchildren wear festive uniforms, sing anthems, and participate in various competitions, often with the involvement of parents. Familiar to many are sack races, various relays, games like speed-eating crackers (krupek) without using hands, tug-of-war, and similar activities. There are also challenging tasks, like attempting to climb a tall, greased pole or a palm tree, with prizes awaiting the brave souls at the top. Or races on collective skis, even on grass. What are collective skis? On each ski, there are three or more bindings for the players' feet, and to the count of the leader and the laughter of the audience, participants try to shuffle to the finish line, overtaking other equally agile and swift competitors.
As you've already understood, this holiday is free of tears, filled with joy and a positive atmosphere. It's meant to remind people that many important things are achieved together, united and believing in oneself and others, one can accomplish much. And, of course, that freedom and independence are not simply given. In almost every Indonesian family, there are stories from fathers and grandfathers who participated in the battles for independence, they are remembered and shared. If you have Indonesian acquaintances, ask them about this part of the country's history, they will be happy to share. For instance, I have an acquaintance who loves to recount how her grandfather returned home victorious on a captured huge tank from battles. Yes, these peaceful Indonesians once proudly stood up and said that this country belongs to them. It's a beautiful and dignified holiday that also allows you to see this sunny and friendly country in a new light.