Indonesia celebrated its 68th Independence Day on Saturday and widespread festive celebrations were seen all over the country.Virtually everyone from toddlers to senior citizens came out to play, engaging one another in boisterous local games that have long defined Independence Day commemorations in this country.
Numerous neighborhoods and communities across Indonesia held a wide variety of games, such as panjat pinang (betel pole-climbing), balap karung (sack races), tarik tambang (tug of war), makan kerupuk (cracker-eating contests), lari kelereng (running while holding in one's mouth spoons carrying marbles) and perang bantal (pillow wars on top of balancing beams extended across rivers).
Waving red-and-white flags adorned the skies everywhere for a whole day – and, in some places, maybe even longer.
The national anthem, "Indonesia Raya" (Great Indonesia) was heard blaring both from wide open spaces where ceremonies were being held and televisions broadcasting live coverage of the ceremony at the State Palace.
In Jakarta, Independence Day celebrations were centered on National Monument (Monas) Square, where thousands of art groups from all 33 provinces took part in a splendid cultural parade.
The parade began in Monas' northern yard in front of the National Palace on Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara. Each of the participating groups showcased their talent on a stage in front of the palace.
The parade continued to Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat, then on to the Arjuna Wiwaha statue at the intersection with Jl. Medan Merdeka Selatan. Special performances were also staged at City Hall before it finally entered the Monas complex.
Drawing on Jakarta's own Betawi ethnic heritage, a group of dancers and several huge ondel-ondel (giant effigies) danced to the sounds of a traditional tanjidor orchestra.
Meanwhile, a group from East Kalimantan performed the Bening Hutan Wehea dance, which tells of the need to conserve forests for the future of human kind.
A West Java group performed the Wayang Hihid Langgir Badong dance to reflect the current social and political situation in Indonesia.
In Surakarta, Central Java, thousands of local people and army soldiers worked together to unfold a 130-meter-by-90-meter red-and-white flag, bigger than the size of a soccer field.
The flag was unfolded over the famous Bengawan Solo river to the singing of Indonesia Raya. The anthem was sung five times before the flag was completely unfolded.
The Indonesian Record Museum (MURI) officially acclaimed that the flag was the biggest Indonesian flag ever created, beating the previous record of a 120-meter-by-72-meter flag held by Bali's Udayana Regional Military Command.
Similar celebrations were also held in many other cities across Indonesia.
Indonesia has more than 17,000 islands, 1,300 ethnic groups and 500 regional languages.
However, if you want proof of how united Indonesians can be in celebrating their huge nation, just stroll through your local streets on Independence Day and you will find an array of people brought together in their shared happiness.