The colourful independence celebrations draw upon the many traditions of Indonesian culture, including bizarre tests of agility and strength. One of the most bizarre parts of the Indonesian independence celebrations is the Panjat Pinang competition where men clamber up greased poles. The Panjat Pinang game was introduced to Indonesia by the Dutch colonists, who placed prizes at the top of the pole during special occasions for entertainment.
Because the poles are covered in grease or oil, one man is unable to clamber up unaided as they are unable to grip and climb at the same time. As a result, the men form teams where they help each other on the understanding that they split the goodies from the top of the pole equally. One man grapples with the base of the pole while his friends use him as a ladder to get to the goodies from the top.
In some cases, two or three men will stand on each other's shoulders as they defy the laws of gravity in a bid to unhook the prizes from the top of the pole. The men have to co-operate with each other to work their way up the pole, here one of the men wraps his arms and legs to anchor himself, allowing his friend to climb. Women and children look on from the ground and cheer on their friends and relatives as they try and dislodge the goodies from the top of the pole.
The independence celebration is a major day out for Indonesian families who decorate buildings and homes in the red and white national colours. The Panjat Pinang competition is designed to teach young people the importance of working together for the common good.
According to Daily Mail