Easter celebration Javanese
style in Ganjuran

Quite different from the way most Christians celebrate Easter, Gereja Hati Kudus (Holy Heart Church) in Ganjuran, Bambanglipuro, Bantul will celebrate it in Javanese style using local tradition.

This year's Easter celebrations, according to the secretary of the parish board, Tunggul Pamungkas, will be focused on Good Friday.

The congregation will wear traditional Javanese clothes and services will be conducted in the Javanese language. "This is in response to our community's tradition and at the same time to show our concern about the fact that tradition is being gradually abandoned by many," said Tunggul.

Gereja Hati Kudus Ganjuran, said Tunggul, since it was established by Dutchman Scmumzer, has always placed priority on local tradition as can be seen in the crowned statue placed in front of a shrine.

Tunggul told The Jakarta Post it was ironic that the younger generation was abandoning Javanese tradition and did not even know how to wear Javanese clothes properly.

"We are very concerned about the fact that the young generation has forgotten all about tradition, so by celebrating Easter in the Javanese tradition we hope to rekindle our ancestors' values," he said.

Services at the church will also feature gamelan music, especially tlutur gamelan music, which is dominated by the saron (metallophone instrument) and rebab (two-stringed violin-like instrument).

He added that Easter celebrations at the church this year would be less creative than previous years as more attention had been paid to rebuilding the church, which had been damaged in the May 27, 2006 earthquake and cost about Rp 7 billion to rebuild.

Those involved in the rebuilding of the church, which has Javanese architecture (Joglo), had to work quite hard because 600 square meters of woodcarvings were required.

"We have been focusing more on the rebuilding of the church, so admittedly we have been somewhat less creative in our preparations for Easter celebrations this year," he said.

In previous years, the church staged traditional performances for the Resurrection of Jesus, such as ketoprak (local Javanese drama) or dance performances.

As the church has just been rebuilt and still needs finishing touches, Easter celebrations will be conducted in a temporary church in front of Candi Ganjuran (Ganjuran Shrine). However, just as in previous years, a large number of the congregation will follow in various religious proceedings.

One of the unique religious proceedings at Gereja Hati Kudus Ganjuran is the strewing of flowers during Mass. This year the celebrations committee has prepared about 200 kilograms of flowers for this purpose.

"Some of our worshippers bring their own flowers, so many kinds of flowers, like roses and cananga, are strewn on the altar in huge numbers and form a large pile," said Tunggul.

Many believe the flowers bring peace and God's blessings. After the celebrations are over, they usually take the flowers home to strew on the graves of ancestors.

"I also do the same thing myself," he said.

Taking the flowers home, according to Tunggul, is a local tradition. "There is no teaching about this matter, but taking the flowers home essentially means spreading peace, and that is just fine," said Tunggul.

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