Culture

‘Mondosiyo’: A ritual
of victory over cruelty

Members of the Javanese community who embrace philosophy or mysticism are accustomed to hearing their character described according to the wuku, the seven-day period constituting the 210-day Javanese calendar. The 14th wuku in this system is called Mondosiyo.


The Javanese believe wuku, which have different names like Sinta, Julungwangi, Dhukut, play an important role in shaping human behavior. Those born under Mondosiyo, for instance, are supposed to be more inclined to help people in trouble.

Some Javanese are convinced Mondosiyo has an auspicious influence on public life, and thus deem it necessary to celebrate it. The people in the hamlet of Pancot, on the slopes of Mt. Lawu near Surakarta, is one such community.

Locals welcome the arrival of Mondosiyo with the tradition of resik desa or village cleanup. This ritual
is held every 210 days, on Tuesday kliwon (the 5th day of the Javanese five-day week).

This centuries-old tradition in Pancot is derived from the myth of Prabu Baka, a cruel king who oppressed and robbed locals of their wealth while also eating them to increase his supernatural powers.

Putut Tetuko, a knight from Pringgondani hermitage (later known as Eyang Kancanegara) finally killed the king.

As narrated by hamlet elders, the name Pancot originates from a fight between Prabu Baka and Putut Tetuko, where the knight placated the king to the ground (pancot in the local tongue). The king’s head hit a stone called Batu Gilang. Later, garlic grew out of his canines that fell into the soil, and shallots grew from his molars. Both plants are Pancot’s main crops today.

Prabu Baka made a dying wish to have the arrival of this wuku period, Mondosiyo, marked with a village cleanup ritual, with offerings presented in sacred places such as Punden Bale Pathokan (fight scene), Batu Gilang and Kancanegara’s Pringgodani hermitage in Pancot. The core ritual now takes place in Bale Pathokan, where Batu Gilang is kept and revered.

The liberation of the Pancot people from the arbitrary rule of Prabu Baka has been observed ever since, in the hamlet’s Mondosiyo ritual.

This ritual recently began on Sunday pon (the 3rd day of the five-day week). Two days before the peak of Mondosiyo, Pancot villagers gathered rice to cook a gandhik (a kind of food) as an offering, as well as a goat and dozens of free-range chickens as main dishes.

The next morning, Monday wage (the 4th day of the five-day week), all the offerings were taken to the houses of communal elders for around-the-clock prayers.

On Monday evening, several village members visited sacred places striking small gongs, notifying the public to join Mondosiyo rituals the following morning.

The peak of the ritual began on Tuesday at 7 a.m. Community elders and hamlet figures took the goat and chickens to Bale Pathokan to be slaughtered. A Reog (tiger-mask dance) parade followed, with thousands of villagers packing the paths leading to the site of Prabu Baka. At this site, elders bathed Batu Gilang with the water of fermented cassava, believed to ward off the wrath of the malicious king.

The ceremony reached a climax when the crowd scrambled to catch dozens of chickens that were set free. Local residents believe the Mondosiyo chickens bring fortune and safety to those capable of catching them. Not surprisingly, this spectacle has become focal point of the ritual.

According to Pancot hamlet chief Sulardiyanto, the chickens are released by people who had vowed to do so.

“They represent the gratefulness of some residents. They believe their requests made before Batu Gilang will be fulfilled. If their wishes are to be granted, they are obliged to free chickens to keep their vows,” he said.

Sulardiyanto added the ritual was also meant to serve as a form of reverence and appreciation for the community’s ancestors. Through Mondosiyo, locals commemorate the victory of their forefathers over the evil Prabu Baka.

On the evening before the main event, residents gather for prayers to present the offerings and beg to God Almighty for safety and prosperity.

“The village cleanup as part of Mondosiyo also signifies introspection for self-purification of all negative elements,” Sulardiyanto said.

Mondosiyo is not just a community festival. Through the tradition marked every seven month, the local community fosters an atmosphere of harmony and peace. Reverence for village ancestors is believed to have encouraged social harmony in the community.

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