Event Coverage: Indonesian Cultural Night at Columbia University

March 30, 2013 | News

This past Thursday evening, hundreds of people filled the Earl Hall Auditorium at Columbia University to experience diverse sights, sounds, and the delicious cuisine of Indonesia, including beef rendang, “the world’s most delicious food,” of West Sumatra.

The Honorable Consul General of the Republic of Indonesia in New York, Ghafur Akbar Dharmaputra, gave some welcoming comments and remarks, praising the event organizers for their outreach to the community, with special thanks to the Saung Budaya dance group, and appreciation that, despite the fact that many of the group’s members have grown up in the United States, they still pay homage to their home culture and heritage of Indonesia.

Wayne Forrest, President of the American-Indonesian Chamber of Commerce, gave a presentation on “US-Indonesia Relations: Political, Commercial, Cultural,” highlighting many aspects of the history of US-Indonesian interactions on several different levels, but emphasizing the cultural connection as the most vital way for Americans to learn about Indonesia and make a personal connection to “the largest country that we know the least about.”

New York based Saung Budaya presented cultural dances from Sumatra and Kalimantan, two of the largest islands of Indonesia.  The playful and energetic movements of the Piring Dance from the Minangkabau culture express the joy and gratitude of farmers in West Sumatra, in celebrating the harvest season, welcoming guests, or honoring a new village chief.  The audience held their breath as the plates held by the dancers seemed permanently attached to their hands in the quick movements that even took the dancers down to the ground during the performance.  With beautiful adornment of bird feathers in the Enggang Dance, Saung Budaya also paid homage to the traditions of Kalimantan.

Even before the traditional dance performances began, the audience had an opportunity to explore various aspects of Indonesian culture, by visiting the Bahasa Indonesia language table, learning to tie a sarung in a traditional manner, taking pictures with people in traditional dress, or explore the angklung instruments on display. The evening also featured The Ubuntu Choir, based at the International House NYC, sang “Tanah Airku,” or “My Homeland”.  Several audience members even had the opportunity to learn to play the angklung, and presented their own rendition of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” accompanying the full audience in a sing-a-long!

The evening was organized and presented by the Indonesian Network at Columbia University, with generous support from the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia in New York (KJRI), the Southeast Asian Student Initiative (SEASI) at Columbia University’s School of International and Public AffairsPermias NYC, and the Language Resource Center at Columbia University (LRC). The event was fully supported by SEASI, KJRI, LRC, and Permias NYC.

The Indonesian Network at Columbia University is led by Fransiskus Andrianto and Frances Sinanu and Dorita Setiawan-Fathoni.

Seminar_program INDO NIGHT 2013_program

Image gallery from the event:


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About Us

We are the local New Haven, CT branch of the International Silat Federation of America and Indonesia, dedicated to sharing the traditional arts, culture, music, theater, and natural wellness methods of the Minangkabau community of West Sumatra, Indonesia.