A male ondel-ondel puppet is seen wearing a face mask at Kramat Pulo, Central Jakarta on Friday. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
No More Dancing: Pandemic Becomes A Quiet Time for Jakarta's Ondel-Ondel
BY :YUDHA BASKORO
AUGUST 07, 2020
Jakarta. Even the large Betawi effigies 'ondel-ondel' are not as smiley amid the pandemic.
Ondel-ondel, usually comes in a pair of enormous male and female puppet figures, have always been a staple to kick off extravagant festivals and parties. In the evening, ondel-ondel buskers would liven up the streets to entertain the passersby and cars stuck in a traffic jam. All this has become a rare sight due to the crisis-hit economy and stay-at-home orders.
With fewer people renting the brightly colored puppet, the business has become sluggish for ondel-ondel artisans and rental services. Even so, they still remain hopeful that their ondel-ondel can perform once again.
The witty smile of Jakarta's cultural icon popped out from the thicket along Kramat Pulo street, Central Jakarta, on Friday. Joyous music played by brightly colored carts filled the street. The sun was right overhead, but no customer had arrived yet.
"We just line up our ondel-ondel on the side of the road to let people see. Hopefully, they will come to buy or rent them," artisan and repairman Yono said on Friday.
He admitted that the pandemic has taken a toll on his business, but he hasn't given up easily.
Similarly, ondel-ondel rental service provider Heni displayed her female puppets near the bridge at Jalan Pacar. She even had a three-wheeled taxi or bajaj ready for delivery.
"If someone is going to rent, I just put the ondel-ondel on a bajaj. Poor her, she hasn't been dancing for a very long time," the 59-year old said.
Ondel-ondel craft centers in the region have been around since the 1980's, but started to get lively in early 2000. The pandemic is the toughest challenge yet for ondel-ondel artisans in Kramat Pulo after staying alive in the capital for decades.