Indigenous peoples in some areas in Lombok island commemorate the Islamic New Year with long traditional rituals. Not just one day like Muslims in general, but four days with colorful and cheerful events. This is a form of harmony between religion and traditional customs. Islam which brought to Lombok by Sunan Prapen in the 13th century was combined with ancestral heritage.
So what makes this new year event interesting?
One thing is about traditional culinary. On the first day there is ‘bubur pute’ or white porridge and ‘bubur abang’ or red porridge. Those white and red come from two types of rice. White Porridge symbolizes the father and red porridge symbolizes the mother. A dish that symbolizes human origins, which began with the union of men and women.
Then on the second day, the ritual pancake called Bekerem will be served. A cake with meaning of the fetus or the origin of life. The third day you will be presented with a combination of large and small ‘ketupat’ (a rice cake covered with coconut leave and made in form of diamonds). This dish means an expression of human gratitude to God.
On the fourth day, rice and side dishes are served. But it is not allowed to serve side dishes from living things or animals. The meaning is for recovery and purification of the heart, simplicity, and get life as what it is.
And it’s already make hungry 🙂
Beside the food, there will be rituals and prayers with the use of Banyan trees as a symbol of protection from leaders to all people. Also holy water that has been prayed for some nights earlier, use to face washing. In this ritual, people will walk around the village at 12 o’clock midnight, every night for those 4 nights of ritual.
Indonesian people traditionally love to keep relics or heirlooms which was inherited from ancestors. Mostly those things are weapon, such as keris, sword and spear. Just like some area in Java, also in Lombok they have ritual to clean those heirlooms in this new year moment.
The ritual caretakers will sit in circle on a ‘berugak’ (a kind of pavilion) with those sacred relics in front. There is also a box wrapped in white cloth, complete with several flowers.
Mahzar is one of the ritual leader. He is descended of a war leader againts Dutch colonial in the past. The heirlooms about to cleansed in the ritual are relics of the Selaparang Kingdom which were used in the war.
After the cleaning process he lead everyone to put back those relics inside a small 16m square and 5 meters tall hut. People called this hut as a historic site, the only one left in Rembiga area, after the other two were broken long time ago.
When people walk around village every nights, the take those relics around. They belief it as a moment to avoid bad lucks and wish for good hopes.
“We have to keep doing this Betetulak ritual every year, so everyone, especially youth never forget their history and respect their ancestors”, said Mahzar.
By: Syahadatul Khaira