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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.

The rituals of Jumat Kliwon
The holy rituals of Selasa Kliwon and Jumat Kliwon

Whether it is the evening of Selasa Kliwon (a Tuesday Kliwon according to the Javanese calendar) or Jumat Kliwon (a Friday Kliwon following the same calendar), both evening are used to hold rituals on the beaches of Cepuri and Parangkusumo in the province of Yogyakarta on the island of Java. Both days are seen as days that should be honored, according to old traditions. These days are based on a period of 40 days in which people are traditionally fasting.

“Where people used to fast for a period of 40 days, nowadays only some of them fast for a short three days, from the evening of Selasa Kliwon to Jumat Kliwon. These three days represent the other 37 days that are not being used for fasting anymore nowadays,” tells R.P. Suraksotarwono, the juru kunci (lit. 'keyholder', representative) and resident of Parangkusumo beach.

Javanese people from different parts of the island see different days as holy. Inhabitants of Central Java see the evening of Jumat Kliwon as a holy day, but there are other days for other parts of the island.

“For residents of Kemukus in Central Java, the evening of Jumat Wage (a Friday and Wage according to the Javanese calendar) their holy day. Many residents will hold their holy rituals on that day. People in Yogyakarta however will use Selasa Kliwon and Jumat Kliwon for the same holy rituals,” tells Suraksotarwono.

At times when residents of Yogyakarta and surroundings are doing their rituals at Sela Sengker (in the area of Cepuri), there are three elements that are being worshipped. These three elements near the Sela Sangker ('small stone') are Mbok Rara Kidul as the helping hand of Ratu Kidul, Mbok Nyi Roro Kidul as representative for Ratu Kidul and Gusti Kanjeng Ratu Kidul, the ruler of the southern seas.

“Persons performing their rituals for Mbok Roro Kidul are those looking for some form of passage, since Mbok Roro Kidul is seen as a kind of spirit. People that perform the ritual for Nyi Roro Kidul are people that want to meet with Ratu Kidul,” continues Suraksotarwono.

Folklore tells that people should pray at the Batu Sengker after their pilgrimage before the offerings to Gusti Kanjeng Ratu Kidul can be offered to the sea at the beach of Parangkusumo at some 300 meters from Cepuir. Offering is a spiritual surrender to Ratu Kidul so the prayers will be heard. It is normal that the products offered are hunted for by locals as soon as the ceremony is over.

According to Suraksotarwono, offering to Ratu Kidul is not according to her own wish. “In the kingdom of Ratu Kidul, everything she needs is present in abundance, so that there is no shortage in any way. Because of spiritual devotion in the past, all demands for the kingdom of Ratu Kidul are already met.”

It was only in the 1980's that the centuries-old traditions were also seen as a commercial activity instead of just a pure ritual tradition. This caused the entire ceremony to loose some of it's original values over time. Trade in ritual clothing nowadays is just as important as the rituals performed on Jumat Kliwon themselves for example.

Suraksotarwono tells that a pilgrimage like this should be done in a quiet environment with as less distractions as possible, but on the evening of Jumat Kliwon a pasar malam ('evening market') is organized, which forces even those coming here for their pilgrimage to be set aside for the commercial side of the entire ritual.”

Visitors that like to see a traditional ceremony like this – it's not that commercial just yet – can best head to Parangkusumo early in the morning on a Jumat Kliwon. The beach is just west of the well-known Parangtritis beach and can be reached within one hour from the city of Yogyakarta.

Location map of The rituals of Jumat Kliwon

Last revised on February 08, 2010
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