One of the island’s annual highlights is the Tidore Festival – a cultural festival, which honours the more than 900-year old history of the island’s capital Soasio, presenting and celebrating the rich local heritage in a series of events. With the backdrop of breathtaking island scenery, customs can be experienced that are both native to the island of Tidore itself and those that were adapted from the former lands of the Sultanate.
The festival is full of fascinating rituals, all of which are deeply rooted in the Sultanate’s tradition and history. Ceremonies alternate between sunlight and moonshine, framed by local dances and traditional costumes, accompanied by magical singing and dancing, a heady mix to cast a spell over the visitor. The friendliness of the islanders ensures that strangers quickly feel at home and part of the experience.
Established in 2009, the festival regularly takes place between the end of March and mid-April. Due to the pandemic, the festival was paused in 2020 and 2021.
The festival kicks off with the Dowaro procession and the water bamboo ritual Ake Dango. This involves representatives of Tidore’s traditional clans making a pilgrimage to the place Kota Tuba at the foot of Mt. Kiematubu to pray for God’s blessing. From there, they proceed to a sacred mountain spring, from which each clan draws water.
The spring water is brought together in bamboo holders in one of the traditional villages in an atmospherically very impressive nocturnal ceremony. The water-filled bamboo remains in the village overnight and is carried to the palace the next morning, handed over to the Sultan in a very solemn procession as part of the festival’s Opening Ceremony. While this spring water carries a high symbolic power, in the course of the festival it is applied in various traditional rituals, just like the ‘holy water’ in a Christian context.
Other festival highlights include the so-called Lufu Kie ritual and the rituals Ratib Taji Besi and Paji Nyili-Nyili.
The Ratib Taji Besi, which has been in existence for many centuries, is a religious ritual that has its origins in the Islamic community of Tidore and serves to bring prosperity, salvation and peace to the island and its inhabitants. This ceremony, held in the Sultan’s Palace, involves the religious dignitaries from different villages.
Similar to Ternate’s Kololi Kie ritual, Tidore-based Lufu Kie describes the ritual of circumnavigating the island by the Sultan by boat. This ceremony, accompanied by prayers, is carried out to obtain Allah’s blessing. Paji Nyili-Nyili stands for an island tour by land. In this ritual, the glorious deeds of Sultan Nuku, who is revered as a local hero, are honoured and his story traced.