The Catholic community in Bantul, Yogyakarta, always celebrates Easter in ways steeped in tradition. This year it is also held with a united stand to spread the spirit of sharing with the poor.
C. Sugito, chairman of the Easter Celebration Committee of the Church of Jesus’ Holy Heart (HKTY) in Ganjuran, Bambanglipuro, Bantul, said the theme — “the Catholic community during times of concern and sharing” — was based on the current and alarming condition of the nation. While some people enjoy abundant wealth, the rest of the nation is in desperate need of assistance.
If the public, especially the Catholic community, focuses on showing its concern for the less fortunate, then the united action would be of immense benefit.
“What is worse is that the nation’s leaders are still selfish and only think about their own interests,” said Sugito.
He explained that the theme was decided upon from the collaboration of 54 churches within HKTY Ganjuran following five discussion sessions. HKTY Ganjuran is providing funding to the churches for the social outreach efforts.
“This is not the main nominal amount, but just as a stimulus. However, it does increase collective awareness,” he said.
“There are still many poor people who need care and help.”
This year’s Easter celebration, said Sugito, was also auspicious because it coincided with the Novena VII prayers. “This is indeed special as hopefully our prayers about concern and sharing can inspire the nation,” he said.
As the oldest Catholic church in Bantul and one that staunchly preserves Javanese tradition and culture, Ganjuran’s Easter Masses feature traditional Javanese dress, language and music. The Friday evening Mass on April 5 will be led by Martosudjito, Pr., while the Mass on Friday will be led by Father Suryo, Pr. in Javanese.
For non-Javanese speakers, the Easter Mass on April 6 at 7 p.m. will be headed by Father Jarot, Pr. in Indonesian, but Javanese attire is required.
Faithfully preserving the tradition of the Easter celebration at Ganjuran is related to the history of the church, which was built in 1924 by the Schmutzer family, an esteemed Dutch Catholic family who resided there during colonial times. The church is a combination of Catholic and Javanese culture, which in itself has influences of Hinduism and the Islamic kingdom of Mataram.
Ganjuran church has long been considered a place of pilgrimage, particularly for its shrine with a green colored statue of the Holy Heart of Jesus. Usually during weekends, the temple is crowded with those visiting for pilgrimage and contemplation.
After being destroyed by the 2006 earthquake, the traditional ambience has been maintained by rebuilding the church in the Javanese architectural style of Joglo complete with various ornamental carvings.
The supporting post of the church, for example, is decorated with parallelogram carvings called wajikan in Javanese, which means “the sweetness” or “nectar of life”.
On every corner of the roof there is a hanging wooden carving, resembling a pineapple. In the Javanese tradition this refers to the struggles in life to attain sweetness.
The walls have yellow carvings called banyu mili, which means that prosperity will always flow. Ignatius Dwi K., a member of the congregation, said that the preservation of culture and tradition in Ganjuran matched the condition of Bantul residents.
“Most of us are farmers who are still closely connected with various traditions,” he said. “Through our own tradition and culture we can rise and build this country without depending on others,” said Ignatius.
And Javanese traditions have deeply entrenched social concern for others. “If the leaders of this country have any culture at all I’m sure they won’t forget their people, instead of thinking only about their own interests,” he said.