The Jakarta Post
In Javanese tradition, jenang (porridge served with brown sugar or coconut milk) is an important symbol of hope and prayer. It is woven into the stages of life of Javanese people, from the moment of conception, to little milestones in children’s lives and to the time they get married.
Made mostly from rice or glutinous rice, brown sugar and coconut milk, jenang is more than just a sweet and delicious dessert — some types of jenang are still used in traditional ceremonies in Java, such as jenang abang putih (red and white jenang), which symbolizes the conception of man. The female seed is represented by red and the male seed by white.
Through the Jenang Festival, held on Feb. 17 in Ngarsopura district, Surakarta, the Central Java city at the center of Javanese culture aims to reintroduce jenang as more than just an ordinary snack.
The festival, which was held as part of the city’s 272nd anniversary, showcased as many as 150 kinds of jenang in hundreds of earthenware containers called kendil and some 20,000 pincuk folded banana leaves.
From early morning, thousands of residents flocked to the Ngarsopuro area, located near Mangkunegaran Palace.
Along the road, hundreds of bamboo stalls offered different forms of jenang.
White jenang sumsum, brown jenang gendul, pearlshaped jenang mutiara as well as jenang made of red and black glutinous rice were served in kendil and pincuk by men and women clad in traditional clothes — beskap (short jackets) for men and kebaya blouses for women.
The festival was officially opened by Surakarta Mayor FX Hadi Rudyatmo and was later followed by the distribution of various jenang, arranged on bamboo trays, to visitors packing the road in front of Triwindu Market.
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