Lombok Festival Inspired by Tale of a 'Sea Worm' Princess
Thousands of people gathered in Seger Beach in Indonesia to catch and eat sea worms, a symbol of prosperity.
The Bau Nyale Festival, meaning "catching sea worms" in the local Sasak language, happens each year in February. Crowds begin arriving along the coastline of Kuta village in Central Lombok, Indonesia before dawn. Equipped with traditional fishing tools, they dig up sea worms along the coast line.
Many locals believe the sea worms are the reincarnation of a princess who drowned herself in the sea. Legend has it that Princess Mandalika was so beautiful that princes from every corner of the country wanted to marry her.
The king asked them to fight for her hand. "The princess refused to be a part of the bloodshed, so she run away to the sea and killed herself," said local tourism official Lalu Fauzal.
The ritual has been practiced for centuries, but it's only started to become an organised tourism event in the past 15 years. "It attracts tens of thousand visitor each year," Mr Fauzan told the BBC.
After catching the sea worms, the locals will cook them by smoking them over a BBQ or steaming them, and then eat them. They believe the worms are a symbol of fertility and prosperity.
The sea worms come in different colours - green, yellowish, and brown - and look shiny under the light.
The traditional Sasak communities celebrate this festival each February, according to their traditional calendar. Before the main event last week, locals also held a traditional music contest and cultural parade.
"It is a celebration for us who live here, for Princess Mandalika. We are so glad that a lot of people come to the beach, catching 'Nyale'," said one of the locals, Inaq Senah.
Source : BBC