Jembrana is famous for its thrilling water buffalo races (Makepung), introduced by Madurese migrants to celebrate the end of the rice harvest. The competitive races take place on erratic tracks outside Negara, beginning about 800 before the heat makes the big bulls sluggish. Mostly locals attend this festive event there's lots of rooting and cherring, and the betting is frantic. It's possible to attend rehearsals, trials, and competitions, and even to commission a bull race.
There are also year-round races held for tourist every two weeks, usually every second Thursday at 1500 on a special track near Perancak, 10 km south of Negara. Though the course length and rules are identical to the real thing, the competition lasts only an hour. Only the island's handsomest, sleekest water buffaloes are chosen to complete. Teams are divided into two clubs, the eastern division (east of the Ijo Gading River) and the western division (west of the river). Look for the red banners of the east and the green flags of the west. Organized by the regional government, trials are usually held in the dry season on the second and third Sundays in September and October. The Bupati's cup occurs on the Sunday before Indonesian independence Day in the town square in Negara. The even more prestigious governor's Cup takes place on a Sunday in October. The dates and places are different each year, so get current information from Negara's Department of tourism on Setia Budi Street behind Bupati office.
Before the race the bull's horns are painted and around their necks are placed decorated harnesses and silk ribbons. After teams are paraded before the crowd of spectators, their ornaments are stripped off and the beasts teamed with their brightly clad jockeys. Each pair of bulls pulls a small two-wheeled cart (a modified 'Cikar') manned by a precariously balanced jockey over a two-km-long stretch of back road converted to a racecourse. To gain speed, the jockey's twist the bull's tails and last their backs with whips. Entrants are judged not only for speed, but are also awarded point for strength, color, and style. These heavy, awkward looking, normally docile animals can reach speed of up to 60kph. The wining bull are used for stud and fetch up to twice the market value when sold.
A variation of the "Makepung" is the "Megembeng", in which a pair of bulls is harnessed together and decorated with elaborate ornaments. Huge wooden bells (Gembeng) are hung around their necks, making a distinctive sound as the bulls race across the field dragging the colorfully dressed jockeys behind them on skids. The only other places traditional bull races are held are on the home island of Madura off the northeast coast of Java and near Singaraja in Buleleng regency on Bali's north coast.
Mekepung race held as a permanent event is always held each year, named:
- Governors Cup
- Regent Cup
Mekepung Regent Cup race is usually held on the beach circuit mekepung Dlod Berawah. In the implementation of this race is always accompanied by music and dance Mekepung Jegog sung by young women Jembrana.
Mekepung Calendar 2016
|Sunday, 17 July 2016||Awen, Lelateng, Jembrana||-|
|Sunday, 31 July 2016||Delod Berawah, Jembrana||-|
|Sunday, 14 August 2016||Kaliakah, Jembrana||Bupati Cup|
|Sunday, 28 August 2016||Mertasari, Jembrana||-|
|Sunday, 11 September 2016||Pangkung Dalem, Jembrana||-|
|Sunday, 25 September 2016||Delod Berawah, Jembrana||-|
|Sunday, 9 October 2016||Sanghyang Carik, Jembrana||-|
|Sunday, 23 October 2016||Mertasari, Jembrana||-|
|Sunday, 6 November 2016||Awen, Lelateng, Jembrana||-|
|Sunday, 20 November 2016||Delod Berawah, Jembrana||Jembrana Cup|
Circuit can be changed depending on field conditions.