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Thousands race to catch Klaten’s Yaqowiyu ‘apem’ cakes for good luck

Ganug Nugroho Adi

The Jakarta Post

Klaten, Central Java  /  Tue, October 22, 2019  /  11:07 am
Thousands race to catch Klaten’s Yaqowiyu ‘apem’ cakes for good luck

The 'Yaqowiyu' traditional ceremony kicked off with the presentation of a pair of 'apem' cake towers in the shape of 'gunungan' (cones) from the Jatinom Mosque, which stands about 200 meters away from Sendang Plampeyan Square in Jatinom village, Klaten regency, Central Java, where the event takes place. (JP/Ganug Nugroho Adi)

The tradition of handing out apem (rice flour cakes) held annually in Jatinom village, Klaten regency, Central Java took place on Oct. 18. According to the Javanese calendar, it was the month of Sapar, which is the time to pay tribute to the late Ki Ageng Gribig, aka Syeh Wasibagno, who spread the teaching of Islam on Java.

Handing out apem, also known as sebar apem, is part of the Yaqowiyu traditional ceremony held in every month of Sapar.

The name Yaqowiyu is said to have been taken from the prayer chanted by Ki Ageng Gribig, who started the tradition in the 17th century.

Attended by thousands of observers from many cities outside Klaten, namely Surakarta, Sukoharjo, Boyolali, Wonogiri, Yogyakarta and others in East Java, Yaqowiyu is usually held in the afternoon after Friday prayer in Sendang Plampeyan Square, Jatinom village.

The event kicked off with the presentation of a pair of apem cake towers in the shape of gunungan (cones), from the Jatinom Mosque, which stands about 200 meters from the village square.

Aside from a pair of apem cake gunungan, thousands more apem cakes are distributed during the event. There are at least 6 tons of apem cakes available for the Yaqowiyu ritual.

Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo helped distribute 'apem' cakes from the stage during the 'Yaqowiyu' traditional ceremony at Jatinom village in Klaten regency, Central Java.Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo helped distribute 'apem' cakes from the stage during the 'Yaqowiyu' traditional ceremony at Jatinom village in Klaten regency, Central Java. (JP/Ganug Nugroho Adi)

Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo, who went to the event, said that apart from promoting unity, Yaqowiyu also instills the important values of giving and sharing. He said the compassionate atmosphere of the event is what must be maintained and preserved.

“I am delighted to see thousands of people gather and share happiness in this event,” said Ganjar, adding that the observation of Yaqowiyu is also the right moment to pray for the best for Indonesia, for peace and prosperity.

Read also: Saparan Wonolelo: Festive way to preserve ancestors’ tradition of preaching

Prayers were chanted and apem cakes were distributed. Thousands of people rushed to catch the apem cakes that were thrown in every direction, while many others watched from under the shade of trees at the edges of the square.

Ganjar and Klaten Regent Sri Mulyani helped distribute apem cakes from the stage.

Yaqowiyu tradition is a valuable asset for Klaten as a tourist destination,” said Sri. "Besides promoting religious values, the tradition also draws Jatinom natives who live outside the village to come and visit their homes."

Despite the effort to catch an apem cake or two, the audience members do not eat the delicacy. They would rather keep the cakes for good luck. Coming from all walks of life, some people would bury the cakes, hoping for a good harvest, keep them in a drawer in a shop for a profitable business, or store anywhere at home for good health and good luck. (mut)