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In Gunungkidul, villagers express gratitude for their livestock 

Stefanus Ajie

The Jakarta Post

Yogyakarta  /  Sun, June 23, 2019  /  09:02 am
In Gunungkidul, villagers express gratitude for their livestock 

Cows are bathed with oil and flowery water. (JP/Stefanus Ajie)

People living in Karangrejek village, Gunungkidul, brought livestock to the village hall while attending a traditional ceremony known as Gumbregan on Tuesday. 

Passed down through generations, Grumbegan, which is celebrated with the coming of each Gumbreg month on the ancient Javanese calendar, is dedicated to livestock. This tradition is still upheld in several villages in Gunungkidul, such as those in Saptosari, Tanjungsari and Wonosari. For residents of Karangrejek, livestock are essential as they serve as a primary source of income– giving them a major role in the structure of agrarian society.

Read also: Gunungkidul seeks to promote less-popular destinations

"Often when we plow fields, we whip our cows, or sometimes we treat animals poorly. Gumbregan symbolizes a human apology to their livestock," said Wakidi, an elder from Karangrejek village. 

The Gumbregan tradition is upheld by locals as an expression of their gratitude for their livestock, as well as a prayer for their health and safety.

Gumbregan participants parade various offerings.Gumbregan participants parade various offerings. (JP/Stefanus Ajie)

At the village hall, a humble stage featured people performing karawitanmusic (Javanese gamelan). Close to noon, the locals began to flood the area to join in on the ceremony. They then patiently waited for parade participants, who broughtvarious offerings neatly arranged on a bamboo tray.

The Gumbregan tradition began with the Makani Sapi ritual, in which the participating cows were anointed with oil and flower water while accompanied by prayers and strains of karawitansongs. Afterward, the cows were given special foods of ketupat(rice cakes) and a mix of bran and sticky rice. Other livestock such as goats and chickens were treated similarly.

After a series of prayers and traditional art performances, the Gumbregan ceremony ended by handing out ketupat and a variety of other snacks to the spectators. 

Local artist Heri Nugroho said Gumbregan as a tradition was a means for locals to inherit the values ​​held by their ancestors and ultimately preserve it. "Gumbregan is a valuable tradition to uphold. In the future, Karangrejek residents can turn this tradition into a cultural tourist destination for Gunungkidul." (ayr/kes)

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