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Jakarta Post

Merti Golong Gilig ritual shows battle of good vs evil

Tue, August 30, 2016   /   12:23 pm
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    Three giants representing evil fight with a knight representing the good at the Merti Golong Gilig festival in Dipowinatan Mergangsan in Yogyakarta on Aug. 18. The festival aims to foster unity among the residents as well as develop tourism in the neighborhood. The festival was also held to celebrate Independence Day. JP/Aditya Sagita

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    A small mountain made from rice cake [arem-arem] waits to be carried around the kampung. JP/Aditya Sagita

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    A troop of men wearing royal Javanese soldier attire carry the arem-arem mountain in the kampung. JP/Aditya Sagita

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    Residents watch with enthusiasm as the troop parades around the kampung carrying the small mountain of food. JP/Aditya Sagita

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    Women and girls participate in the ceremony 2016.JP/Aditya Sagita

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    Children and adults have fun racing to get the arem-arem arranged like a small mountain. JP/Aditya Sagita

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    A woman shows off her bounty from the mountain. JP/Aditya Sagita

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    Residents share food provided by their neighbors. JP/Aditya Sagita

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    Residents sing and dance. JP/Aditya Sagita

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    Children in attractive costumes join in the parade around the kampung. JP/Aditya Sagita

The Dipowinatan Mergangsan kampung in Yogyakarta has something the residents wait for every year. Since 2010, the urban kampung has hosted a festival called Merti Golong Gilig. In the festival, performers present a traditional dance theater piece narrating the battle of good vs evil.

The hero is Arjuna while the evil side represented by three giants.

The residents hold the event to foster unity among themselves and to raise their spirits in facing challenges together. They symbolize unity by wielding brooms made of tied palm fronds.

The residents also welcome guests and tourists to the event to make Yogyakarta a more interesting tourist destination.

One of the main attractions in the event is a rice cake [arem-arem] arranged to become a small mountain called golong gilig gunungan.

The small mountain is carried around the kampung and at the end of the event, residents race to get the arem-arem.

The entire kampung participates in the festival. Each house provides snacks and food in the front yard and every one can have them for free. [evi]