tomato fight indonesia bandung lembang


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This Town in Indonesia Celebrates a Good Harvest With a Massive Food Fight

The annual tomato fight might be a new tradition, but it's also one of the best.

In the hills west of Bandung, there's no better way to ward off bad luck than with a village-wide food fight. Every year the village of Cikareumbi, in Lembang, West Bandung, does just that as part of planting season ceremonies called Ngaruat Bumi and Hajat Buruan. The basic idea here is that these ceremonies chase away bad luck and keep the crops disease-free all growing season.

So what's it look like? A bunch of people dressed in woven bamboo armor hurling tomatoes at each other. By the end of the day, at least two tons of nearly rotten tomatoes lay crushed in the road—later to be used as fertilizer in the fields for the next growing season.


The whole thing starts with a symbolic war dance between two "soldiers" who show up with shields and bamboo masks. Once the dance ends all hell breaks loose and people just start throwing tomatoes at each other for nearly an hour. The soldiers coordinate the war, ordering their troops to attack and retreat from the battle. Or, at least, I guess that's what they were doing. Really, the whole thing just looks like total chaos. There were so many tomatoes raining from from the sky that if you lose focus for only a second, you're bound to get one in the eye.

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This tradition of using tomatoes began back in 2012 as a reaction to villagers' complaints about the price of tomatoes being too low. The reason behind the price drop was excess supply, so the farmers, rather than sell their tomatoes at a lower price, just let them rot.

The village elders still wanted to use them for something, so they invented a new tradition where each rotten tomato represents something bad in the world. By throwing it away, you were saving yourself from a year of misfortune. But, according to one elder it's also a way to be thankful for a good harvest.

"We do this as a way to show our gratitude to God, who blessed us with fertile land and water,” said Nanu Muda, one of the village elders who initiated the festival.