Amazing Sea Worm Festival In Lombok You Don't Want To Miss

colorful sea worms found only in Lombok during annual Bau Nyale festival

SEA WORM FESTIVAL ‘BAU NYALE’ – THE ONLY SEA WORM FESTIVAL IN THE WORLD, RIGHT HERE IN LOMBOK

Guarantee Once In Lifetime Experience!

 

bau nyale the only sea worm festival in the world

Welcome to Lombok! Right here on this tropical island, a unique and amazing festival that became an annual attraction for tourist all over the world. The local indigenous Sasak community celebrate this sea worm festival also known as ‘Bau Nyale’ (pronounced as Ba-u Nya-le). This event is held every year at south eastern Lombok at Kuta district.

One week before this celebration, all accommodations in Kuta are fully booked with local and overseas visitors who want to see the festival.

bau nyale the ony sea worm festival in the world
‘Bau Nyale’ sea worms – unique & very colorful

SEA WORM FESTIVAL ‘BAU NYALE’ – THE ONLY SEA WORM FESTIVAL IN THE WORLD 

What Is ‘Bau Nyale’ ?   

In the Sasak language, Bau’ means ‘to catch’ and ’Nyale’ is ’sea worms’. This festival is all about catching sea worms. Not just any sea worm. This particular species is in a variety of colors – brown, pale cream, re and green. You can’t miss it. These are the only type of worms that comes to the surface from the sea.

Some researchers say the worms are from a Palola species, while some call it the Eunice Fucata. Apart from spawning on certain times of every year, not many facts are known about these worms.  Facts or not, come and enjoy the unique sea worm festival.

sea worm festival in Lombok attracts large crowds
Lombok’s annual sea worm festival attracts large crowds by the thousands

The Legend Of Bau Nyale  

Once upon a time, according to the legend Of Bau Nyale, there was a famous kingdom in the south eastern part of Lombok. The name of this place is Tonjeng Beru, that is one part of modern-day Central Lombok province. The king had a princess. Her name was Putri Mandalika or Princess Mandalika. She was the most beautiful maiden in the entire kingdom, as well as being kind and well-loved by everyone. Seven princes asked for the Princess’ hand in marriage. Each one vowed to launch a war if they were rejected in favor of either one of the princes. All of them were rich, powerful and handsome (also the not so handsome). This caused plenty of friction and ill-feelings among her suitors. Thus, war was imminent within the surrounding regions.

Princess Mandalika tried her very best to calm the situation. Sadly, she failed. Rather than choose one, she sacrificed herself to everyone. The heart broken princess jumped off the cliffs of Seger Beach. Before she jumped, she promised not to leave her people, and to return each year to visit her beloved kingdom. Everyone searched the surrounding sea for the princess. Instead they found colourful sea-worms, called Nyale. Legend has it that it is the reincarnation of Princess Mandalika.

For many centuries, the island’s Sasak inhabitants celebrate the annual sea worm festival at Seger Beach to catch the worms that they believe is the spirit of “the wise and beautiful princess.”

venue of Bau Nyale sea worm festival at Pantai Seger
Statue of Princess Mandalika @ Pantai Seger

Why is this celebration important to the local Sasak community?    

The highlight of the ceremony is when the local priest or ‘Dukun’ go to the sea to observe the spawning Nyale. He will then predict the rice harvest for the year. A good catch by any person is a sign prosperity and abundance  in the year’s rice harvest. Nyale worms are also traditionally associated with fertility and good fortune. Sea worms that are caught are placed in irrigation channels surrounding paid fields to ensure a good yearly harvest.

When is this happening?    

The celebration takes place on the 20th day of the 10th month on the traditional Sasak Calendar which is a day that draws near to the full moon (approximately February/March according to Gregorian calendar) During this time, the beautiful stretch of Seger Beach in south coast of Lombok becomes a popular location for Bau Nyale festival.

Bau Nyale celebrations started since the 16th century. Cultural activities such as betandak (answering rhymed poems), belancaran (sailing with vessels), bejambik (giving souvenirs to our lovers), and the performance of the legend of Princess Mandalika. During Bau Nyale, people catch the sea worms using hands or basins. Lombok people believe that the more sea worms they catch, the greater their fortune will be for the whole year.

According to an article in JakartaGlobe, Bau Nyale festival is the best event to develop Lombok tourism through cultural heritage and tradition.

Fancy Eating Sea Worms? – Taste good too!

‘Nyale’ are eaten sometimes raw when they are caught. Cooking methods are steamed, stir fried, or made into Pepes Nyale, which is a local Sasak dish. The Nyale are mixed with coconut and spices, then wrapped in a banana leaf and roasted over the fire. The sea worms taste delicious and rich in protein. Sea worm dishes are deemed special because it is available only once every year.

sea worm nyale delicacy of Lombok
Sea Worm Dishes – Bokosawu Nyale (L), Nyale Pa’dongo (R)

There are two Lombok signature dishes made of Nyale sea worms. It is very nutritious. The Nyale sea worms contain protein, phosphor, and calcium needed by our bodies

1) Bokosawu Nyale. A mixture of raw sea worms, basil leaves, and lime juices.  

2) Nyale Pa’dongo, roasted sea worms with grated coconut, shallot, garlic, basil leave, and Lombok chilli. .

Experience It!     

Sea worm festival Bau Nyale in Lombok is an exceptional and amazing  experience. All visitors and tourists are very welcome. Join the fun and feel the excitement of local island life. Hear legendary stories of Lombok. ‘Nyale’ sea worms are believed to bring good luck and lots of prosperity to those who catches them during Bau Nyale. Who knows? This legend may come true for you.

Hotel and homestay occupancy are usually high during this period. Many Lombok locals from the island and tourist from all over the world come to view the spectacle. It is indeed a case of ‘the early bird catches the worm’

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Video credited to AMBARAJAYA Pictures

More sea worm festival videos HERE

SEA WORM FESTIVAL ‘BAU NYALE’ – THE ONLY SEA WORM FESTIVAL IN THE WORLD, RIGHT HERE IN LOMBOK

 

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