Boy T Harjanto
Every year when the Islamic fasting month approaches, residents of Purwokinati subdistrict of Pakualaman, Yogyakarta, bring thousands of apem cakes to a parade.
The parade, traditionally known as apeman, also features various dances and traditional art performances
put on by the locals. This event traditionally takes place in the month of Ruwah on the Javanese calendar and is part of the ruwahan (pre-fasting celebration).
Apem is a traditional Javanese cake made primarily from rice flour, brown sugar and fermented cassava, which can be either fried, grilled or steamed. The name comes from the Arabic word afum, which means the act of asking for forgiveness.
The apeman parade also includes ketan kolak, which is sticky rice cooked in palm sugar and coconut milk. Kolak means the Creator, so the tradition refers to a plea for forgiveness from God.
Apeman has been observed since a long time ago. The tradition had been waning for some time in the past but was revived by the local community to remind the younger generation of the time-honored practice.