Dangdut king Rhoma Irama under scrutiny over singing at circumcision party amid pandemic

Rhoma Irama singing at a circumcision party in Bogor on June 28, 2020. Photo: Istimewa
Rhoma Irama singing at a circumcision party in Bogor on June 28, 2020. Photo: Istimewa

Is dangdut the perfect distraction during the pandemic? Some Indonesians certainly think so, with yet another show — this time involving the undisputed king of the genre himself — held recently, attracting quite the public outrage in the aftermath.

On Sunday, Rhoma Irama, the man credited with inventing dangdut and is arguably the genre’s most iconic figure, reportedly sang a couple of songs at a khitanan (circumcision party) in Bogor regency. The recently snipped kid is said to be the son of Rhoma Irama’s close friend.


Videos circulating from the event show that the concert was a relatively small affair by Rhoma Irama’s standards, yet a significant crowd from the khitanan, as well as gatecrashing locals, came to see the king.

In line with the inevitable public backlash, Bogor Regent Ade Yasin expressed his displeasure that the event went ahead despite not having obtained a crowd permit from local authorities. The regent also said that Rhoma Irama had previously given his word that he wouldn’t perform at the khitanan.

“But yet he came. He said as a guest. But a guest doesn’t have to perform like that and draw a crowd. He has a strong pull,” Ade Yasin said.

Rhoma Irama himself said he was told by event organizers that restrictions had been eased in the area and that he initially had no plans to sing on stage.

“The host asked me to deliver a sermon. So I delivered a short sermon. After that, they all asked me to sing, so I just sang a couple of songs,” he said, pointing out that his full band was not on stage with him.

The Bogor Police are now investigating the incident for violation of COVID-19 protocols in the region. Early signs suggest that the host may be penalized for holding the event without permission from authorities, though the possible punishment for such violation is not yet known.

Furthermore, the Bogor regency administration said it is going to carry out mass rapid testing on those who went to see Rhoma Irama on Sunday to anticipate a possible COVID-19 cluster.

Also Read — Controversy as dangdut concert held for COVID-19 hospital workers

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