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ogohfrontWelcome to The Lombok Guide – Lombok's new tourism paper and your guide to the best that the island has to offer. The Lombok Guide is published on Lombok every fortnight and contains valuable information for all visitors to our magical island. Use the Guide to explore Lombok and check out the best hotels, restaurants and sight-seeing options, to make your Lombok holiday special.

The last week of February and the first two weeks of March highlight for us what an amazing and fascinating culture we have here in Lombok. The unique Bau Nyale Festival was celebrated on Lombok's south coast in the last week of February and then, in the first week of March, we celebrate the Hindu New Year with a fantastic Ogoh-Ogoh Parade through the city, followed by Nyepi, the day of silence.

A week later is the start of Maulid, the Prophet Mohammed's birthday and a special time for the Islamic community worldwide.

Although marked on the national calendar for 20 March this year, in Lombok Maulid is celebrated on different days according to different areas of the island. Muslims will return home over the days of Maulid to share this special occasion with families, along with feasting and celebrations in the villages.

Then on 21 March, Good Friday and the start of the Easter long weekend will be celebrated by Lombok's Christian community – and by chocolate lovers everywhere! Traditional Sasak, Hindu, Muslim and Christian celebrations all in less than one month – Lombok truly is a fascinating melting-pot of religions and cultures!

Come and discover for yourself the magic of Lombok… like thousands of others, you'll be enchanted!

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ogoh2Just as in Bali, Lombok's Hindu community carried out a fantastic “Ogoh-Ogoh” parade in Lombok on 6 March.  The Ogoh-Ogoh parade is a stunning and noisy parade of fantastic monsters that dance and twist their way along the main streets of Lombok's capital, Mataram, on the day before Nyepi each year.

Ogoh-Ogoh is the name given to the giant monster creations, representing Hindu creatures of the underworld known in Balinese as buta kala. The creatures are usually based on evil characters or spirits taken from traditional myths and legends.

About one month before Nyepi, the Hindu community starts to plan their Ogoh-Ogoh. Each Balinese village, even those in Lombok, is run by the “Banjar”, a sort of community council. The Banjar supports and maintains the temples and village environment; as well as mediating problems in the village, etc.  In preparation for Nyepi, the Banjar collects money, often with smaller communities joining with a bigger one, to create an Ogoh-Ogoh together. Sometimes they are the creations of artisans brought in from Bali, gifted in monster making and hired to produce amazing monsters. The young people of the village take great delight in competing with other villages to create the most gruesome, terrifying or eye-catching Ogoh-ogah.

The parade of the Ogoh-Ogoh, although possibly the most popular Hindu event for spectators, is in fact an important ceremony in preparation for Nyepi, the start of the Hindu New Year; it is a type of mass exorcism of evil in order to start the new year fresh and clean.

The people of each Banjar work together to create the monsters using bamboo and wire frames, paper mache and other materials, and they are often works of art that have taken many man hours to create.  Before the parade, a pemangku (temple priest) holds a ceremony to imbue the buta kala with spirit and power. Some say the monster gets heavier after this ceremony! The Ogoh-Ogoh is placed on a bamboo frame, so that many people can help to carry it, making wild movements and dancing to bring the monster to life.

Groups of people in traditional dress join the parade, taking turns to carry the heavy effigy and dancing alongside their Ogoh-Ogoh.

Musical groups, gamelan players and dancers in costume often accompany their monster, creating a spectacle of sound and drama. As evil spirits are believed to inhabit crossroads, particular attention is paid to each intersection with the Ogoh-Ogoh lurching and dancing wildly in the middle of the road to scare off any other evil spirits lurking there.

The parade travels along Jl Pejanggik, in Mataram, before making its wogoh3ay to Taman Mayura, the temple complex in Cakra. At the temple the Tawur Kesanga ceremony is held to neutralise the negative power of buta kala and to create a harmonic relationship between human beings and God, human and human, and human and their environments – a peaceful start to the Hindu New Year. After the ceremony, the monsters are paraded home to their respective Banjar again, where they will be burned later in a ritual symbolising the destruction of evil.

The Ogoh-Ogoh parade takes place every year on the day before Nyepi, usually in the mid-afternoon along the main street of Mataram. The parade and the ceremony of the monsters at Mayura Temple are fascinating events, full of music, dance and cultural tradition, and spectators are always welcome.

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A major dispute has been brewing over the past month between local governments and the mining giant PT Newmont Nusa Tenggara, over their mine in the neighbouring island of newmontSumbawa. Now the Indonesian government is threatening to terminate Newmont Mining Corp.'s 30-year contract to run a massive copper and gold mine on Sumbawa Island unless the U.S. mining company divests a 10% stake to local authorities.

The Indonesian government will sue PT Newmont Nusa Tenggara (NNT) in an international court of arbitration for failing to follow local divestment laws, Energy Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said on Monday. He said if the court of arbitration rules in favour of a letter of default issued by the Indonesian government on 11 February, NNT's contract of work to mine copper and gold on Sumbawa Island could be cancelled.

"All these steps and efforts are within the agreement set out in the contract of work. We regret that we have to resort to this action but this is the best way to ensure that the matter is decided through international arbitration," Yusgiantoro told reporters.

Newmont and its partners have invested about US $1.9 billion in the mine, which has estimated reserves of 1 000 metric tons of copper. The reserves are expected to last until 2034, making Batu Hijau one of the largest copper mines in the world.

According to the contract of work signed on 2 December, 1986, Newmont's foreign owners were required to sell part of their stake in NNT to local parties starting in 2006.

On 11 February this year, the government declared that the joint venture between Newmont Mining Corp and Sumitomo Corp that owns NNT, known as Nusa Tenggara Partnership, had defaulted on the agreement by not reducing its 80 percent stake in the company. Indonesian company, PT Pukuafu Indah, holds the remaining 20 percent.

The government had set a deadline on 22 February for the sale of part of Nusa Tenggara partnership's stake, extending it again to 25 February and then to 3 March. According to the contract, foreign ownership in NNT must be reduced to not more than 49 percent by 2010. The first divestment of a 3 percent stake was originally scheduled for 2006 and the second sale of 7 percent was slated for 2007. The next divestment of a further 7 percent should have been done this month. A further 7 percent is scheduled be sold in 2009 and another 7 percent in 2010.

NNT paid 2.29 trillion rupiah (US $251.9 million) to the Indonesian government in 2007 in the form of taxes and royalties, up from 1.3 trillion rupiah paid in 2006.

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mattewThe elementary school on Gili Trawangan has received a boost recently, thanks to the efforts of local business operators and western visitors on the island.

The SDN on Gili Trawangan has around four hundred local children attending and thirty teachers. Three are Government-funded teachers and the other staff are paid from sponsors' donations. Local businesses on Gili T have been providing support to the school for many years, but this new initiative hopes to increase the size and frequency of these donations, as well as encourage new and expanding businesses to provide additional support.

Despite the high number of students, up until now the school has had no toilet facilities for the children. The Beach House, aided by other local businesses and in cooperation with The Gili Eco Trust, has employed their builders to design and build a new toilet block to house 5 girls' and 5 boys' toilets and wash basins. New gates for the school will also be built this year.

There are also plans to build a Volley Ball Court to add to the badminton and table tennis equipment, which are part of the school sports curriculum.

The school is also in dire need of current curriculum text books. Presently they are traveling to Lombok to make photo copies of the books.

Fortunately, the students recently received a donation from an Austrian tourist visiting the island of 6 complete computers (hard drives, monitors and key boards), and the school has established a computer room off the very basic science lab. Local businesses will assist them in establishing an internet connection and also plan to assist in the building of a tiled wet bench with sinks in the basic science lab.

kidAs part of the latest island initiative to reintroduce an ongoing rubbish recycling education program, a school clean up was held on Sunday, 24 February at 3pm. Over 300 local children and teachers, assisted by representatives from local businesses, enthusiastically took part in the collection of more than 40 bags of rubbish and debris from the school grounds.

The school's Headmaster, Pak Haji Muhidin, thanked The Beach House for initiating the clean-up and for providing protective gloves and garbage bags, as well as soft drinks and lunch for all the children and staff. Additional refreshments where provided by Tir Na Nog and Horizontal Lounge. Cidomos to transport equipment and food were provided by The Gili Eco Trust. There was also plenty of hands-on support from The Trawangan Boutique Villas & Spa, Big Bubble and representatives from the local governing committee and local businesses.

The clean up was part of the island's initiative, in cooperation with school rubishgovernors and the Island Committee, to educate the community in the advantages of recycling waste. Rubbish bins and bags will be provided by local businesses and the children will be encouraged to continue their clean-up by taking part in a weekly, Friday morning Gotong Royong (clean up).

Large bins will be placed outside the school walls and collected each Friday evening after school. Classes and groups will be asked to paint the garbage bins within the school and, at the end of each school term, the class or group responsible for the most efficient clean up will be rewarded by winning a visit to the Water Bomb Park in Lombok.

The clean up resulted in a large empty pit within the school yard, once all the accumulated rubbish had been removed. As part of the ongoing initiative, the pit will be filled and a “tree planting day' will take place. The children will cultivate the trees as part of their curriculum and the grown saplings will be sold back to local businesses to raise funds. The trees will then be used to revegetate the local beach front, where some erosion has already occurred.

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