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Jakarta Post

Tatung parade brings supernatural nuance to Cap Go Meh celebration

Sat, February 15, 2020   /   12:16 pm
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    Ahen reads out mantras on the swords, machetes and other sharp weapons that will be used during the tatung ritual. JP/HS Putra

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    The tatungs (people possessed by gods or the spirits of ancestors) take part in a ritual before the Cap Go Meh parade in Singkawang, West Kalimantan. JP/HS Putra

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    Ahen and his siblings get ready for the Cap Go Meh parade. JP/HS Putra

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    Aldo, the little brother of Ahen, burns an incense stick prior to the parade. JP/HS Putra

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    The tatungs wear costumes inspired by Chinese royalty of the past, mixed with Dayak tribal style. JP/HS Putra

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    A tatung has his cheek stabbed with a metal stick. JP/HS Putra

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    A tatung shows off his ability of sitting on a machete during the parade. JP/HS Putra

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    A tatung, in Dayak-inspired costume, has a thick metal stick stabbed through his cheek. JP/HS Putra

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    A tatung stands on a float embellished with an Indonesian flag. JP/HS Putra

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    A female tatung recites a mantra to ward off “supernatural diseases.” JP/HS Putra

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    It is believed that a tatung does not suffer any pain during the ritual as he or she is possessed by Gods or the spirits of ancestors. JP/HS Putra

Hs Putra

A family in Singkawang, West Kalimantan, started their preparations for the Cap Go Meh parade before the crack of dawn.

They are the children of the late Djie Khin Jung, better known as Ajung, a famed tatung (Hakka Chinese word for a person possessed by Gods or the spirits of ancestors) in Singkawang.

Tatung groups often appear at Cap Go Meh celebrations – the 15th day of the first month of the lunar calendar.

It is believed that tatung have the power to ward off evil spirits and bad luck, also to cure diseases.

Of the 13 Ajung’s children, only seven have tatung talent. Before their tatung ritual later on that day, the eldest son, Ahen, led a procession at their house, which also functions as a Kong Hu Chu temple.

As the sun rises, the seven siblings wore their Chinese royalty-inspired costumes and conducted a couple of other rituals before departing to the parade’s starting point on Jl. Pangeran Diponegoro.

Throughout the parade, the tatungs showcased their extraordinary skills by being stabbed in the mouth, cheeks, lips and ears with metal sticks without suffering pain or wounds. They were accompanied by a mediator, who would communicate with the spirits possessing the tatungs. (yps)