From Dangdut Football to Getek: Kartini Day Celebrations Across Indonesia

Kartini Day is a day where we celebrate the noble cause that brought by the great national heroine R.A. Kartini. We celebrate gender equality, women’s emancipation, and the will to be independent regardless of who you are. Usually we celebrate it every year in schools and institutions by helding a traditional outfit contest and other games and competitions. These communities throughout the country opt for a different way and hold their own sets of unique celebrations instead.

Bull Races – D.I. Yogyakarta



In the region of Yogyakarta, bull races were held every year to celebrate Kartini Day. Lead by the only female ‘bajingan (bull riders)’ in the province, the only bull that eligible are the local-bred ‘sapi benggala’. The main judging point is not how fast the bull reaches the finish line, but the way they move and how they synchronize with their riders.


Table Tennis – Kendal, Central Java

Way up north in the province, in Kendal, Central Java, the women celebrate Kartini Day with a different kind of sport. Wearing kebaya, these women go head to head in a match of table tennis. While there are no deeper cultural meanings behind this event, just being there to have fun in their full traditional attire is great enough for the Kendal people to gather as a community.

Tennis – Surabaya, East Java

Source: (watermarked)

Similar to Kendal, some people in Surabaya are celebrating Kartini Day with a kebaya tennis tournament. Wearing similar sets of kebaya, the women in pairs battle it out to see who are the best in tennis while wearing traditional attire. This unique event is actually held by and for the family of a section of the Indonesian Marine Corps who resides in the area.

Football – Katingan, Central Kalimantan



In a similar theme but in a whole different region, women from the Regency of Katingan hold a soccer match to commemorate the Kartini Day. Like other sports, the women wear kebayas during the match, albeit with a twist. Several times during the match, a dangdut song will be played. During those times the participants must stop from playing the match and dance through the song.

‘Getek’ race – Wonogiri, Central Java


At a village in the Regency of Wonogiri, the women are celebrating Kartini Day by holding a race on the river. Using ‘getek’ as their ride, the women try to finish first in this 100 meters-length race. According to the locals, this race symbolizes their pride of being Indonesian and to commemorate the noble service of Kartini.

Flag Ceremony in Javanese – Semarang, Central Java

One school in Semarang celebrates Kartini Day by holding the customary flag ceremony in a different way. All of the officers are women wearing kebaya. The hundreds of students who attend the ceremony also wear traditional attire. On top of that, the ceremony is using Javanese as its main language.


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