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Jakarta Post

Unique Javanese-Catholic tradition in Bantul

Wed, July 31, 2019   /   06:20 pm
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    Acculturation: Children wear shadow puppet costumes. JP/ Tarko Sudiarno

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    Come to me: An image of Jesus Christ is seen on a traditional Javanese tent. JP/ Tarko Sudiarno

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    The right note: Gamelan music accompanies the procession. JP/ Tarko Sudiarno

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    Jesus is here: The procession circumambulates the temple.JP/ Tarko Sudiarno

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    Stay strong: Catholics from all over Indonesia queue to receive their blessings at the end of the service. JP/ Tarko Sudiarno

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    Son of man: The Sacred Heart of Jesus statue marks the center of the temple. JP/ Tarko Sudiarno

Tarko Sudiarno

Thousands of Catholics gather in the yard of Candi Hati Kudus Yesus (Sacred Heart of Jesus Temple) in Bantul, Yogyakarta, at the end of June every year.

The gatherers, coming from all parts of the country, attend a Holy Mass that is uniquely presented with a lot of Javanese ambience.

The Mass and procession use the Javanese language and nine concelebrant priests wear surjan (traditional Javanese coat) and blangkon (traditional Javanese headdress) as well as use Javanese-styled ceremonial accouterments.

This year’s Holy Mass was to commemorate the presence of the oldest Catholic church in Bantul and it features the Eucharist and ends with the Holy Sacrament circumambulation around the temple and a parade in the temple yard.

Batavia (Jakarta) Bishop Antonius van Helsen officially opened the temple, which was built in 1927, on Feb. 11, 1930.

The 10-meter-high temple, which is built of stone taken from Mount Merapi, resembles Prambanan temple, a sacred place for Hindus.

In the middle of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Temple is the statue of Jesus depicted as a king in Javanese attire.

Located beside the temple is the Ganjuran Catholic Church, which was constructed in 1924 by sugar mill entrepreneurs from Holland, Joseph and Julius Schmutzer. At that time, Catholicism began to spread through Bantul in the southern part of Yogyakarta city. Local people blended Javanese culture with Catholic liturgy, which is still practiced to this day.