Fri, 16 Jun 2000

Thousands attend 'Gerebek Maulud'

YOGYAKARTA: Thousands of people thronged a square in front of Yogyakarta Palace on Thursday to commemorate Prophet Muhammad's birthday in an annual ritual locally known as Gerebek Maulud.

The people, many of whom came from neighboring towns of Purworejo, Surakarta, Wonosobo, Magelang, arrived in the morning on buses and trucks to get places in front with a hope of seeing Yogyakarta Sultan Hamengkubuwono X up close.

The sultan blessed the crowd by presenting six rice cones locally called gunungan.

The rice cones were watched over by palace guards and their elephants before the presentation. People who believe in the blessing of the food frantically rushed to the cones to take anything they could reach.

Thursday's ceremony capped a month-long festival in celebration of the Islamic holiday. A similar event also took place in neighboring town of Surakarta. (swa)