Sat, 29 Apr 2000

Cleansed royal heirlooms ward off evil

By R. Agus Bakti

YOGYAKARTA (JP): The Sura month, the first month in the Javanese calendar is considered sacred. The Javanese royal families usually hold a series of ceremonies to purify their priceless and royal heirlooms.

One of the ceremonies is siraman kereta, the bathing of the ancient royal carriage, Kanjeng Nyai Jimat, one of the Yogyakarta court heritages, to spiritually cleanse it of any bad influences.

This year's ceremony was held in Kagungan Dalem's Train Museum at The Yogyakarta Royal Palace on April 14 (Sura 9, l933, according to the Javanese calendar).

As usual, thousands of people coming from Yogyakarta, Klaten and neighboring regencies attended the annual ritual waiting for the blessing.

Chaired by the court's senior official, KRT Kudawijoyo, the ceremony started at dawn. The sequences of the ceremony are caos dahar (serving offerings), siraman (bathing) and mbusanani (dressing).

The caos dahar ritual is the serving of various offerings -- traditional food, flowers and other items, prepared by the court's servants.

The ritual was conducted in conjunction with the cleansing of royal heirlooms such as Kanjeng Kyai Ageng Plered spear, kris and other weapons.

The bathing of the royal carriage could be started only after the weapons were cleansed.

At noon, the carriage's white cover was unwrapped. Each part of the carriage was doused with water filled with flowers then dried with white cloths.

After the ceremony, thousands of attendees patiently waited to receive small pieces of the white cloths and the flower water believed to have strong spiritual powers.

The water used for cleansing any of the court's heirlooms is believed to have extraordinary potency that can heal certain illnesses including skin diseases. The water is also used to protect the user from evil and bad omens.

It is no wonder that every year hundreds of people faithfully attend every royal ceremony to wait for the blessed water.

Harjoutomo, one of the onlookers, said that he and his family attended the ceremony not only to take water but also to heal their spiritual wellbeing.

"The ceremony is spiritually enriching. By attending this ceremony, I feel emotionally better and healthier than before. Every year, I have to come here to rejuvenate my life," explained the 63 year old grandfather.

According to the ancient inscriptions, the Kanjeng Nyai Jimat cleansing was part of the Jamasan ritual, an annual rite to purify all weapons, instruments and other sacred items belonging to the Yogyakarta Royal Court.

The court has 18 royal carriages, now kept at the Palace's Train Museum. The Kanjeng Kyai Jimat carriage was built by a Dutch company in 1750.

The Kanjeng Kyai Jimat carriage was only used once during the period of Sultan Hamengkubuwono I to welcome a high ranking Dutch official.

"These series of rites are part of the cultural and spiritual legacy of the Yogyakarta Royal Court that must be preserved by us and our successors," said a royal member KRT Seladihardja.