Javanese Mitoni Ceremony


The Legend of this Ceremony

It starts with a kenduri (ritual gathering with meals and religious prayers), attended by neighbors. Following the kenduri, the pregnant mother is guided by village elders for a bathing ritual with water from seven wells -- her own and her neighbors'. It is a symbol that the baby, upon its birth, is blessed by the whole family as well as all neighbors.

The two coconuts offered are thereafter split and part of their water was drunk by the expectant mother, in the hope that the good characters of Arjuna and Sumbadra would be absorbed by the infant's soul. Virtue and security are what this ceremony is all about.

The same tradition has diverse forms in different areas. Both in Yogyakarta and Central Java, mitoni accommodates the same gist but it is manifested and furnished in different ways. In Bantul, for example, this rite is more popularly called tingkeban.

In this Bantul-style ceremony, lasting from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m., the woman and her spouse are bathed first, before being dressed in separate places like a royal lady and a prince, with unofficial costumes.

Both are later brought together for a janur (young coconut leaf) cutting. The wife wears a janur wreath round her neck, and the man approaches her to slash the leaves with a kris. Their dresser immediately tosses an egg, amid the audience's applause.

Kulonprogo has just about the same tingkeban, the only difference being the additional procession prior to the janur cutting. The couple is taken round the ritual place accompanied by petal-strewing, which is conducted by an elder or dresser for the purpose of purging the house of evils.

In spite of the wide variety, the seventh-month pregnancy ritual forms have the same essence, that is to seek material and spiritual salvation for the pair, the would-be child and the whole family.

Whatever manifestations may be, they eventually point to the fact that Javanese cultural wisdom always fosters equilibrium between pursuits of the body and the soul. Mitoni or tingkeban, therefore, serves as evidence of the Javanese community's determination to maintain this wisdom, notwithstanding the lack of accommodation in modern life.

Ki Sedya and Niken Satingkeb succeeded in their effort, after following the advice of King Jayabaya. The other name of Mitoni is Tingkeban, in remembrance of Satingkeb. Nowadays, this Mitoni or Tingkeban ritual is still performed in Java and other places with Javanese lineage.

At the end of ritual, the happy couple is selling rujak (mixed slices of fruit with hot sambal) and dawet (sweet refreshment drink made of coconut milk mixed with sugar and small pieces of soft rice cookies).

The guests pay for this with a piece of earthen tile. Rujak is symbolizing enthusiastic life. Dawet is called dawet plencing. Dawet is a healthy drink. Plencing is leaving a place unnoticed. Dawet plencing is depicting a smooth and safe birth of the baby.



Java, the heart of the Indonesian Republic. An Orientation to the Culture and Traditions of Java.




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