A rain shaman who is praised and blasphemed in Indonesia’s 2022 MotoGP
April 22, 2022
Rara Wulandari, a 39-year-old Indonesian rain shaman, known as Mbak Rara, took to the MotoGP racetrack barefoot and armed only with a singing bowl and incense as a thunderstorm battered the Mandalika circuit during the first MotoGP race to be held in Indonesia. Her ritual in this event has drawn local and international attention.
Being a tropical country, Indonesia does not have spring, summer, autumn, or winter; instead it just has the two seasons of rainy and dry, both of which are relative. While there is significant regional variation, in most of the country (including Java and Bali), the dry season is April to October, while the wet season is November to March, which coincided with the time the MotoGP race was held.
Those aiming to hold outdoor events elsewhere would take the safer route and opt for indoor alternatives, but not the average Indonesian, thanks to the existence of pawang hujan (rain shamans), whose job is, as per local beliefs, to typically delay (some say divert) the rain until the outdoor event is finally over.
Whether coincidentally or not, after Mbak Rara carried out her action, the heavy rain gradually turned to drizzle and stopped. On Twitter, the official MotoGP account wrote, "It works! Thank you for stopping the rain! "and also displayed a video of Rara with the caption, "The Master."
Aditya, one of the MotoGP audiences said that at first he laughed at the ritual but he suddenly changed his mind, "I finally realized that this is one way to introduce this very diverse Indonesian culture to the world," he added, "Indonesia has a diverse cultural background. The rain handler is one of his representations. As a form of local wisdom,"
Other people, like Sarah, said that this is a marketing strategy to attract more tourists to the country, "For me this is marketing. This is local wisdom. About the rain? Yes, the rain will surely subside. But the world pays great attention to unique things, this is a very good promotion for the Indonesian MotoGP,"
While the rain stopped following Mbak Rara's ritual at the Mandalika Circuit during the MotoGP, it did not silence many of her critics. Some Indonesian social media users expressed embarrassment over the ritual, particularly after video footage appeared to show some attendees laughing at Rara while she chanted in the rain. "As an Indonesian, I'm embarrassed," one Twitter user wrote. This is a global event, and bringing the rain shaman is an absolute disgrace. "
Additionally, Abu Fatihul Islam of the Islamic Geographic Institute called the event a "state-sanctioned heathen outrage" and a sign of the country's "moral and intellectual crisis."
Dicky Senda is a food activist and a writer who lives in Mollo, East Nusa Tenggara. He has been working with the local community to record people's relationships with the natural world, such as interviews with rain shamans.
It's unfortunate that people laughed at it because it implies that people like us who conduct research into indigenous customs and communities that work to preserve them are unimportant. Just because we don’t understand them fully, doesn’t mean that local customs are wrong.—Dicky Senda
Mbak Rara revealed on Karni Ilyas's YouTube channel that she has been working on the Mandalika circuit since the pre-season began. This includes the repaving of several sections of the Mandalika circuit. Since the asphalt preparation, I've been working. I worked for twenty-one days, "she stated.
Since March 1, she has been employed at the Mandalika circuit. She aided in weather control, ensuring that it would not rain following the circuit's repaving. According to Rara, the weather must be dry for 24 hours during the repaving period, which runs from March 2 to 9. There was no rain on the date.
However, once the asphalting was complete, Mbak Rara was tasked with raining down to ensure the paving was flawless. Therefore, those who request rain are foreigners, she explained. Following the completion of the asphalting, it rained from March 9 to 12.
During the MotoGP race, Mbak Rara was asked by the MotoGP committee to create a grizzly and humid atmosphere. "They asked me not to make it too dry," she explained. due to the expected maximum temperature of 50 degrees Celsius. If the weather is too hot, the racer's tyres will quickly wear out. "
She admitted that she was unconcerned about blasphemy or negative public comments.
"I don't mind, because I have said from the start that I'm going to help Indonesia,"
Mbak Rara responded to this on her Instagram page as well
"It is your choice whether to despise or like me as a rain shaman. What matters most to me is that I am proud to be an Indonesian and will always love my country."—Mbak Rara, Rain Shaman