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Jakarta Post

Celebrating harvest through Wiwitan

Thu, May 2, 2019   /   01:46 pm
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    Musicians wearing a Yogyakarta palace soldier’s uniform participate in the Nitiprayan Bantul parade as part of a Wiwitan celebration held on April 23. JP/Syamsul Huda M.Suhari

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    The Tolak bala dance is performed by the women of Nitiprayan in Yogyakarta to drive evil spirits away. Nitiprayan is known as an art village. JP/Syamsul Huda M.Suhari

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    Children from a nature club participate in the parade with their parents and relatives. JP/Syamsul Huda M.Suhari

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    A parade of participants carrying gunungan (cone-shaped offerings), a symbol of gratitude filled with agricultural produce. JP/Syamsul Huda M.Suhari

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    A girl playing the role of Goddess Sri, a symbol of fertility in Javanese mythology, is carried to a rice field where the Wiwitan celebration is held. JP/Syamsul Huda M.Suhari

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    Offerings are placed in the rice field as a form of gratitude for the agricultural produce. JP/Syamsul Huda M.Suhari

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    Nani Sawitri, a Losari mask dance artist from Cirebon, West Java, performs a ritual prior to dancing. JP/Syamsul Huda M.Suhari

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    Nani Sawitri performs a magical mask dance, an expression of gratitude for God’s blessings. JP/Syamsul Huda M.Suhari

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    Children and adults flock to grab a piece of the offerings, the pinnacle of the Wiwitan ceremony. JP/Syamsul Huda M.Suhari

Syamsul Huda M. Suhari


Dewi Sri, the goddess of fertility, and her entourage appeared at the school that is surrounded by rice fields that day. Around her, the rice had turned ripe and was ready to be harvested. The voice of beating drums filled the air. People chanted prayers. 


This was the Wiwitan celebration, observed by students of Sanggar Anak Alam (SALAM) alternative school along with villagers on April 23. 


Wiwitan, also known as Wiwit, is a Javanese tradition that has been passed down through the generations. Wiwitan itself is a celebration to deliver the farmers’ gratitude to Dewi Sri for blessing them with a successful harvest. In Javanese mythology, Dewi Sri is the goddess of rice and fertility and Wiwitan is conducted to maintain human relationships with God, as well as maintain the rice field.


The tradition of Wiwit takes the old rice to be kept for use in the planting season.


This year’s Wiwitan celebration is a collaboration between SALAM, SALAM’s forum of parents (FOR SALAM), residents of Nitiprayan village in Bantul regency, Yogyakarta and Suka Tani farmers association. The collaboration is supported by the Bantul Cultural Agency.


SALAM has been organizing Wiwitan celebrations since 2004. Initially, it was an annual event but it was paused for years until it was organized again as a biannual event starting from 2013.


Established in 1988 at Lawen village, SALAM is a laboratorium for a “school of life”, which emphasizes its learning process on basic human needs such as food, health, environment and socio-culture. The theme is a perspective that is developed through daily learning.


Lawen village is located in Pandanarum district in Banjarnegara regency, Central Java. While SALAM was first established in Lawen village, it was reinvented on June 20, 2000 by alternative education activist Sri Wahyaningsih and her husband Toto Rahardjo in Nitiprayan village. (dpk/mut)