Down The Road of Flower Bouquet and Souvenir Paradise in The Heart of Jogja
Updated on 19 February 2019
The sun was beating down as thousands of people crowded along Malioboro street. They did not just stand on the sidewalk but they ran over up to the road. The atmosphere was so noisy and hectic. Bubbling laughter, screaming car horns, the strains of gamelan cassette, up to shouting traders selling food and toys for children blended into one. After waiting for hours, finally, the expected carnival troupe appeared. Started by Bregada Prajurit Lombok Abang, royal carriage convoy began to walk slowly. All squeezing wanted to see the couple of GKR Bendara and KPH Yudhanegara who continuosly waved and spreaded a friendly smile.
That scene was seen as the party of Kirab Pawiwahan Ageng of Sultan Hamengku Buwono X's youngest daughter from Yogyakarta Palace headed to Bangsal Kepatihan. Thousands of people crammed filling Malioboro Street that stretches from north to south. In Sanskrit, Malioboro means flower bouquets because in the ancient times when the Palace held an event, a mile-long road would be filled with flower bouquets. Although time passed and the era has changed, Malioboro position as the main street where a variety of carnival and celebration being held has never changed. Until now Malioboro, Vredeburg Fort, and Zero Point remain a venue for a variety of carnival starting from the event of Jogja Java Carnival, Chinese Cultural Week, Yogyakarta Arts Festival, Carnival Malioboro, and many others.
Before it turned into a busy street, Malioboro was a quiet road with a tamarind tree growing on the right and left. This road was just passed by people who wanted to go to the Palace or complex areas such as First Indische first in Yogyakarta, for instance, Loji Besar (Vredeburg Fort), Loji Kecil (area next to the Great Hall/Gedung Agung), Loji Kebon (Great Hall/Gedung Agung), as well as Loji Setan. But the existence of Pasar Gede or Beringharjo Market on the south side and the presence of Chinese ethnic residential in Ketandan area gradually boosted the economy in the region. Chinese group made Malioboro as its business canal, so the trade area which was originally based in Beringharjo and Chinatown eventually expanded to the north to Stasiun Tugu (Tugu Train Station). Seeing Malioboro rapidly growing into the pulse of trade and shopping centers, a friend said that Malioboro is the baby talk for "mari yok borong (let's buy a lot)". In malioboro you can buy desirable range of merchandise ranging from beautiful accessories, unique souvenirs, classic batik, gold and gems to household appliances. For souvenir fans, Malioboro can be a fun hunting paradise. Walking on the shoulder of the road while bargaining a variety of goods sold by street vendors, will be a special experience. Variety of locally made souvenirs like batik, rattan ornament, silver, bamboo handicrafts, leather puppets, blangkon, miniature of traditional vehicles, accessories, until key chains, all can be found easily. If you are good in bargaining, these items can be taken home with a fairly cheap price.
Besides being a trading center, the road which is part of the imaginary axis that connects Parangtritis Beach, Panggung Krapyak, Yogyakarta Palace, Tugu, and Mount Merapi was once a nest as well as perfoming stage by Malioboro artists lead by Umbu Landu Paranggi. From them also, the culture of sitting on the sidewalk was popularized that eventually rooted and is identical to Malioboro. Enjoying a romantic dinner in the sitting stalls while listening to other street artist singing the song "Yogyakarta" from Kla Project will be an experience that is marked in heart. Malioboro is a series of history, stories and memories that are intertwined in the minds of every person who ever visited. The charm of this road had never faded by time. The exoticism of Malioboro continues glowing until now and inspires many people, and forces them to keep coming back to Yogyakarta. As beginning sentence in Melodia poem created by Umbu Landu Paranggi "Love that makes me feel at home occasionally lasts", memories and love of many people towards Malioboro that makes this road continues persisting until now.
Carnival and the events taking place in the area of Malioboro are normally incidental to the perfomance time that is uncertain. But there are some activities that are regularly held every year such as the Yogyakarta Arts Festival in June to July, and the Chinese Cultural Week held close to the celebration of Chinese New Year (Imlek).