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Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta, or short Yogya is one of the two still excisting traditional royal cities of Central Jawa; the other is Solo. The city is in the centre of a wide belt of fertile ricefields, which are dominated in the north by the smouldering Gunung Merapi ('Mount Merapi'), and in the south is limited because of the rough Indian Ocean.


Kraton Ceremonies
Festivities for Gods and civilians

After the independence of Indonesia the ceremonies were strongly limited. Nevertheless the kraton still is the centre of extended rituals, which are dated from the traditional Jawanese calender. For the Jawanese they mean a prooves of higher power of the sultan and of influence of his court.

Symbols of power

The king got it's power because of the holy heirlooms, the pusaka, which each posess a soul and a specific power. Once a year they are cleaned ritually with holy water and flower leaves ( roses most of the times ). On Tuesday or Friday Kliwon of the month Suro, between 10:00 and 12:00 three ceremonis are held. The first takes place at the palace and is strictly private.

The sultan clears his holy crisses, lances and flags. After that the coaches of the kraton are cleaned with holy water and flower leaves in the Rotowijatan-stables. At last the big barrels with holy water are emptied at the royal graveyard of Imogiri. The two last ceremonies are crowded. The visitors all want to have a drop of the holy water or a leave of the flowers that were used, they would have big mystical powers.

Sekaten

Royal rulers of the Indo-Jawanese kingdom Majapahid held a yearly harvest-festivity. On the next day they visited the state temples to pray and meditate fot the Gods for fertile lands and prosperity of the country. Later, this ceremony was mixed with other important ceremonies from the Islamic kingdom Demak. Gamelan concerts were introduced by sultan Agung, which used them to make the Islam more populair.
The festivities in fact start one month ahead of the real Sekaten-week with a pasar malam or yearmarket ( lit. Evening Market ) on the alun-alun lor, the northern square. On the first day of the Sekaten-week ( the evening before the 6th Mulud ) the two holy Sekaten-gamelans are brought from the kraton to the Big Mosque at the western side of square the with much pomp and circumstance.

They are played one by one in pavilions at both sides of the entry. The gamelan Kyai Gunurmadi, which would come frome the kingdom Demak originally - and was brought to Solo in 1755 after the kingdom was split up - was placed in the most southern building. Kyai Nogowilogo made during Hamenku Buwono I is at the northern pavilion.

Six days long, from dusk untill dawn, music can be heard ( with exception of Thursday evening, and Friday afternoon ). Hammers from a buffalo-horn start a melody on centuries-old bronze instruments. Slowly is gets louder to a high, and then collapses again, ending with the last beat on the bronze instrument. From far, people gather to see the event and to listen to the power of the music. On the early evening of the 12th Mulud the instruments are brought back to the kraton. This is also a happening which attracts many spectators.

Grebeg Mulud

The climax of the Sekaten-festivities is the Grebeg Mulud procession, in which male and femalegunungan ( mountains ) of food are being carried from the kraton to the Big Mosque. The sacrificed are made two days earlier during a small ceremony in Kemagangan. This Tumplak Waijk, which starts at 4 in the afternoon, got it's name after the cookies made of sticky rice, waijk, from which the mountains of food are build. Rithmical beating on the rice ( lesung), guide the ceremony.

On 12 Mulud the devoted arrive at the central square at sunrise for the morning prayer. The Grebeg-procession starts at eight o'clock in the morning with the formation of the palace guards. The groups which are recognisable at their uniforms, march out of the palace, armed with lances, arrows, bows, swords and guns. At the front are the carriers of the flags, and the musical instrument players. Via the Siti Hinggil and Pegalaran they reach the northern alun-alun, to turn right at two waringin-trees, towards the Big Mosque.

After the guards of the palace follow the male and female gunungan, constructions of rice cookies, long beans, Spanish peppers, nuts and eggs. At the mosque, the sacrifices are blessed with a prayer and directly afterwards 'stolen' by the spectators. Every piece, no matter what size, is a holy amulet against illnesses and disaster.

The best place to view the procession is at the Pagelaran at the northern side of the kraton ( tickets at the office of Pracimasono ). Another good, and less crowded, place is the Kemandungan-square inside the kraton.

On 12 Mulud a nightly wayang-kulit show is given at the southern square of Kemangang or in the Pagelaran. This so called Bedol Songsong ( replacement of the sunshade ), marks the depart of the royal symbol ( the sunshade ) and with that the end of the festivities.

Ramadhan

The end of the fasting month Ramadhan ( Poso ) is celebrated much more in Indonesia than in other Islamic countries. It's a big happening in whish families and neighbors meet to ask eachother for forgiveness over the last year.

The evening before 1 Syawal children walk witj torches and Chinese lanterns from the locak mosques to the citu squares. At sunrise a mass prayer i teld, after wich the Grebeg Poso-procession starts. This is a copy of the other procession, the Grebeg Mulud. In the evenint a Bedol Songsong closed the wayang-kulit show at the southern alun-alun, to end the festivities.

The day of the ritual sacrifice

The holy day Idul Adha or Idul Korban on 10 Besar, remembers Abrahams readyness to sacrifice his son to God. Goats, sheeps and cows, sacrifieced by strict Muslems, are slaughtered following strict rules; the meat is spread among the poor. On the eve before 10 Besar there is a child-torch-procession and the next morning, the Grebeg Besar-procession heads towards the mosque, starting from the palace.

Honour to protectional spirits

The day after the birthday of the sukltan the flower leaves, holy water and clothers together with cut nails and hair of the sultan are offered to the protectional spirits of the kingdom at their homes: Ratu Kidul in Parangkusomo at the southern coast and the spirits of Gunung Merapi and Gunung Lawu in their craters. Once in every eight years the rivers of Dlepih and Wonogiri are also brought sacrifices to. This because of the fact that Panembahan Senopati got his holy message that he would rule over Jawa, on this place.
Sacrifices leave the kraton at eight o'clock in the morning. The easiest ceremony for a visit is the one at the beack of ParangKusomo ( near Parangtritis), south of Yogya. Here the nails, hairs and left-overs, are buried on a special piece of beach. The story goes that Panembahan Senopati ressurected from the undersea palace of the Goddess Kangjeng Ratu Kidul, where he spend three days and nights with her. Other sacrifices are put on water on little bamboo rafts. Spectators try to grab them, to use it's freight as an amulet.


Last revised on September 02, 2011
    
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