JAVANISM Gembong Nusantara

Since pre-historic era, human have already known spiritual concept that is shown up on caves paintings. As Plato described there is a super power above all that is untouchable by human thought. Since then, people believe there is another realm besides theirs. It was an invisible and untouchable realm. 

6,000 miles away from Greece, on a 138.794 km2 island in which believed as the storehouse of prehistoric human fossils by Eugene Dubois, a Dutch Paleoanthropologist, the concept of spiritualism evolve.  In Javanese philosophy, there are two worlds that human should deal with; macrocosm and microcosm. Macrocosm deals with spirituality and mystery, whereas microcosm deals with reality and physic. The aim of life is to harmonize the both. Javanism is a way of living, merely like Hinduism or Buddhism. It is a thought that stresses on inner peace, balance and harmony and it contains complete tools to interpret life whether it is the Sein (Being) or the Werden (Becoming).   

The wind blows quite tough, and the sea wave is strong enough to pull people into the sea. Moreover, the wave eroded the sand since few months ago. An elderly man says grace while the incenses stuck in the sand are burnt out. Minutes after, people in quite large group walk behind five men wearing a typical Javanese traditional attire who bring offering in shape of mountain, called Gunungan, contains of vegetables, fruit and paddy. These five men have a job to send the offering to the sea. As centuries tradition, Javanese shape the offering in mountain form because they believed that the spirits live at the higher land, and mountain represent nirvana. A unique fact, Gunungan is used by Javanism worshipers wherever they live, from coastline to mountains. After some hit of wave, they give in and drop the Gunungan. For this ritual, fishermen prepare four Gunungan and all of it is fairly identical, made from vegetables and fruits. Annually fishermen held this tradition as such thanksgiving for the good catch and wish for good fortune of the future fishing. As the wave brings the offerings back, people run enthusiastically to take the fruits and vegetables. People believe the offerings will bring them prosperity and wealth. Shaman has blessed these offerings that symbolized fortune and prosperity and they wish they would get the blessing as well through these veggies and fruits.  

In one cycle of Javanese calendar system, there are many rituals held in order to harmonize the macrocosm and microcosm. Javanese calendar is exactly similar with Islamic calendar since Sultan Agung, the Emperor of Mataram, assimilate both system. One most important ritual is ritual commemorating the Javanese New Year, moment for cleansing the cosmos and self. One most popular ritual of Javanese New Year is a ritual held in Kasultanan Solo, a monarchy of former Mataram Empire during Dutch colonial era. Thousand people gather at the yard of the Palace to join a rite that accompany in a procession of Kebo Bule, albino buffalos that is believed as the guards of the heirloom of Kyai Slamet. During the procession, Javanese people wait for the buffalo to excrete and later on people jostle to get the excrement. People believe that the excrement will bring fertility and good harvest for the upcoming season. Logically, the excrement can be used as compost for cultivation; from that point of view excrement symbolized fertility. 

Javanism cannot be separated from myths; it is in almost every corner of Javanese life. Yet this myth was ever used by colonialist to smoothen the colonization. During the Indonesia Revolution era, Java Island became the central of sugar industry. The Dutch built many sugar factories and transportation system to transport sugar from cities to main port in Jakarta then continued shipped it to Dutch land. To reduce the resistence from Javanese, Dutch created a myth of the factory and held ritual of sacrificial in order to get abundant product of sugar. They sacrificed two heads of buffalo and chickens. This ritual still remain in some big colonial sugar factories until today. The ritual takes time in the beginning of milling. 

People wear sarong, warm clothes, and headscarf and smoke cigarettes as brisk wind creep on the skin while Hindu Tenggerese and tourists are gathering at temple Luhur Poten compound located in the middle of Bromo Caldera, 2.930 metres above the sea level to commemorate Yadnya Kasada, a ceremony of thanksgiving and asking for prosperity for the upcoming years by sacrificing cattle, fruits, vegetables and money. The tradition is inspired by a legend of Princes Roro Anteng and Prince Joko Seger, in which the name of Tengger comes from. The couple prayed at the Bromo volcano asking for offspring and then given 24 children but Gods wanted the 25th child to be sacrificed at the Bromo volcano. Later on this sacrificial commemorated annually at the 14th of Kasada, the tenth month in Javanese calendar system or in the month of July-August in Roman calendar. 

Near the stair to hike Bromo volcano, a shaman build a simple tent with a small stage at where he sit. He serves Tenggerese Hindu by praying the offerings that will be sacrificed later and get small amount of money as reciprocal. 

On the tip of Bromo volcano, Tenggerese Hindu throws the offerings into the crater in where its slope villagers jostle to catch the offerings. The eruption of Bromo in 2011 created a big crater hole and steepy inner slope, and it is riskier to stand on its slope and jostle to catch the flying offerings. 

 In the modern age where people can communicate to each other even for a half-globe distance using only a thin 11’ by 6’ gadget with Internet connection, traditional people using trance as a way of communication with the invisible spirit. It is very common for Javanese customs to communicate with the spirit in many purposes. Trance dance is an ordinary approach to communicate with the spirit since human is material and the spirit is immaterial so then they need to put the immaterial into material which is commonly known as trance. In Yogyakarta, an ancient empire region, a trance dance called Jathilan is still remaining exists. 

Men, wearing make-up and colorful attire hold a two-dimensional bamboo woven horses and dancing fight-like attractively. Then, as the repetitive melodic gamelan instrument goes faster, they dance rapidly and then fell to the ground and act weird. They become notably transformed; the eyes are bulging, the mouths are screaming and they behave erratically, some act like tigers and the others act like monkeys.

At this moment, the spirit occupies their bodies. In a crack they become so powerful, beyond human sanity. They eat glass, embers, live chickens or ducks or peel coconuts by using teeth only. Often they show off their physical strength by receiving whip and hit or breaking hard stuff like roof tiles and bricks with bare head. 

After some performances, the shaman relived the bodies from the spirit. Some spirits need more effort to cast out. However, when the dancers get back to their sense, asunder of being tired, their bodies appear unharmed neither by fighting nor eating extraordinary object. With some water, they get their energy back and behave in normal. 

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