The Jakarta Post
The royal soldiers of Surakarta's Kasunanan Palace were seen parading from the palace to Siti Hinggil hall on Thursday morning. Some abdi dalem (royal servants) could be seen in the middle carrying a joli (stretcher) with a buffalo head covered with white cloth, while also carrying a young coconut, banana, a black chicken and other offerings.
At the hall, tables were waiting; all filled with rows of nasi tumpeng (cone-shaped rice), chicken dishes and various side dishes. The rest of the abdi dalem and members of the royal family - from Hamangkurat IV of Kartasura Palace to Pakubuwono XII of Surakarta Palace - sat on the floor around the tables.
The activity was part of Wilujengan Nagari Mahesa Lawung, which serves as the palace's display of gratitude to god for preserving and maintaining its livelihood. "This tradition has been conducted since the era of Pakubuwono II, who ruled between 1726-1742," said the palace's spokesperson, Kanjeng Pangeran Haryo Winarno Kusumo.
Winarno said the buffalo head, as the main offering, would be planted alongside its tail and offal at the Krendawahono forest in Gondangrejo, Karanganyar, after prayer at Siti Hinggil hall.
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"A buffalo is identical with a stupid animal. Thus the tradition means we get rid of all foolishness and ugliness," he said.
During the Pakubuwono II era, the ceremony was held to celebrate the successful move from the old palace in Kartasura to the new one in Surakarta following the Chinatown riot in which the former was destroyed.
"Now Wilujengan Mahesa Lawung is not only held for the sake of the palace, but also for Indonesia. We're praying for Indonesia to be safe and prosperous," he added.
Unlike previous years, this year's event is said to be held without the permission of Surakarta King Pakubuwono XIII Hangabehi. One of his younger siblings, Gusti Kanjeng Ratu (GKR) "Guti Moeng" Wandansari, said the ceremony was supposed to be conducted last Thursday.
"Last week we were waiting for the order from Sinuwun [Pakubuwono XIII]. But, after no sign for one week, we decided to hold it ourselves," she said.
Mahesa Lawung is one of nine palace activities that are required to be held by the palace's Traditional Council Department. Other activities are Gerebeg 1 Suro, Gerebek Mulud, Geberek Syawal, Gerebeg Besar and Selikuran. (kes)