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Village in Yogyakarta gives new meaning to Wiwitan ritual

A. Kurniawan Ulung

The Jakarta Post

Yogyakarta  /  Mon, June 10, 2019  /  06:46 pm
Village in Yogyakarta gives new meaning to Wiwitan ritual

Goddess on Earth: The Wiwitan ritual involves two children and a teenage girl who dresses as Dewi Sri – the goddess of rice and fertility in Javanese mythology. (JP/A. Kurniawan Ulung)

Before Islam arrived in the archipelago in the 9th century, farmers on Java performed the Wiwitan ritual to thank Dewi Sri for blessing them with a successful harvest. In Javanese mythology, Wiwitan is carried out to maintain human relationships with God, as well as maintain the rice field. The tradition of Wiwitan takes the old rice to be kept for use in the planting season. The forgotten tradition has been revived again by Sanggar Anak Alam (SALAM), a learning community established by Sri Wahyaningsih and her husband, Toto Rahardjo, in June 2000 in Ngestiharjo village in Bantul regency, Yogyakarta. More than just a thanksgiving celebration, SALAM’s version of the Wiwitan ritual signifies the farmers’ hope for a better future.  “Today, our farmers are not as skillful as our farmers used to be in the olden days. Now, our farmers depend on factories to g...