Gorontalo: Traditional Celebration of Tumbilotohe

28 April 2009

A. Brief Information

Tumbilitohe derives from Gorontalo language, tumbilo means set and tohe means lamps. Therefore, Tumbilotoho means setting lamps. Historically, it has been celebrated by Gorontalo people since the 15th century. It is usually done on the last three days of Ramadhan month (Fasting month), 27th – 30th of Ramadhan, started from maghrib (6 p.m.) until subuh (4 a.m.).

In the past, it was intentionally aimed for lightening Muslims to distribute Islamic tithe at night. At the time, lightening alliances were made of resin torch and latex. Considering that the stock for resin torch decreased time by time, they had ever turned to padalama (coconut oil) then turned to petroleum.

As the time goes by, now Gorontalo people tend to use modern lamps but some of them prefer to use the petroleum lamps. Those petroleum lamps are hung on every beam decorated by young coconut leaves. Banana, as the symbols of prosperity, are also found on the top of those lamps and also sugar cane as the symbols of sweetness, cordiality and the glory of Eid El-Fitr. This tradition has a distinctive attractive power for the local inhabitants and surrounding people living in Manado, Palu and Makassar.

B. Distinctive Features

Gorontalo City turns into a glittering city when the tradition of Tumbilotohe takes place. Every part of public service buildings such as local government office, mosques, even football yard, is decorated by colourful lamps. Moreover, farmlands and empty land are also full of flickering lamps which are painted with beautiful mosque, calligraphy and Al Qur`an pictures. 

This three-day celebration is more interesting when the attraction of bunggo (bamboo cannons) is played by children competing each other. All of those bamboo cannons are faced to the people`s homes, proposed to awaking the people for having sahur (the meal eaten before daybreak during the fasting month). By such atmosphere, you will feel its religious nuance and strong solidarity of surrounding people. 

C. Location

Tumbilotohe is in the city of Gorontalo, Gorontalo Province, Indonesia.

D. Access

It can be reach by land, water and air transportations. For you living in Sulawesi Island, you can take any public transportation but for you who are outside Sulawesi Island, you must take either water or air transportations. There are two harbours in Sulawesi Island, Gorontalo Harbour and Anggrek Kwandang Harbour in the district of Gorontalo. In addition, for air transportation, there is an airport in the sub-district of Tibawa, Gorontalo District about 35 km from Gorontalo City.

E. Ticket Price


F. Accommodations and other Facilities

There are many supporting facilities such as hotels, restaurants, worship places, car rentals, and communication devices. 



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