CPPS Daily – Ruwatan Ceremony as a Semiotics of Hope

MAN is like nature and its cosmological phenomena. In the dynamics of his life is always changing, like a metamorphosis in a vortex of cycles that always rotate in the machinery of time. It needs specific formulations to balance it, while saving it. Apart from being human workers, humans in social spaces always encounter various phases that need to be passed as well as the collective beliefs they believe. As well as sharing traditional ceremonies that are still found in the midst of the community.

The tradition of ruwatan ceremonies, births, circumcisions, and various traditional ceremonies, is not just a momentary event that is stopped by time, but its symbolic substitution is a dynamic process along with the expectations of the future of humans in navigating the dynamics of life. In addition, the traditional ceremony, also known as the initiation rite, is a struggle of the human mind and mind in navigating every stage or phase in life, such as birth, death, molting, and various other phases of life that can be a reminder of human introspection in living life in the world.

Semiotics of Hope

In essence, the initiation rite is a form of ceremony associated with transition, and in each custom there is a very different way of carrying it out. Therefore, its meaning becomes more relative. In Indonesia alone, there are many initiation rites that are adapted to local customs. But in substance, the initiation rite is symbolic of man’s hope for something to be achieved.

While the beginning of initiation was the fruit of the adoption of religions left from ancient times that were passed down from generation to generation looking for their form until finally becoming a belief for the Indonesian community such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Catholicism, and so on. And until now, the phenomenon clearly still continues, such as in ruwatan ceremonies in Javanese community traditions (Edi Sedyawati, 2010).

In Javanese tradition, the ruwatan ceremony is called sukrit cleansing. The word sukrit comes from the word suker which means disturbance, vulnerability. The word ruwatan comes from the word ruwat which means broken, broken. Thus, ruwatan can be interpreted as something that must be cleansed or purified from all dangers that will threaten human life. Therefore, based on the traditional beliefs of Javanese culture, those who belong to the Sukrit people must be taken care of.

In Javanese culture which is included in the category of sukrit groups, among others: ontang-anting (only children can be a boy or a girl), uger-uger lawang (two brothers all), twins (two sisters all), pandhawa (five brothers in all), kedhana-kedhini (two brothers and sisters), and so on.

Ruwatan ceremonies are generally carried out with shadow puppet performances with Murwakala stories that last approximately two hours. The show is believed to be a means of freeing humans from bad supernatural forces that threaten humans who are unlucky to exist in this world.

Murwakala tells the story of Batara Kala from being born in the middle of the ocean until he met his father, Batara Guru and asked for food rations. By Batara Guru, Kala was given food rations in the world, namely people who belonged to the Sukrit group. Furthermore, Batara Guru gave a scratch mark on Kala’s body about the authenticity of life called Rajah Kalachakra. Batara Guru advised, whoever can explain Rajah Kalachakra, Batara Kala must submit and respect and obey all his commands.

Murwakala is essentially found in the scene of Dalang Kandhabuwana with Kala. In this scene, Kandhabuwana can explain the Kalachakra Rajah written on Kalachakra’s body with the power of his magic spell. As soon as the mantra was chanted, Kala immediately became helpless and subdued to obey all the orders of Ki Dalang Kandhabuwana who asked him to return to the original realm and promised not to prey on people belonging to the Sukrit class.

Reflection of Life Attitude

The ruwatan ceremony, which can be classified as a form of initiation rite, each organizer seen in terms of interpersonal relationship networks appears to be a reflection of a high sense of solidarity, kinship, togetherness, and mutual cooperation in community life. This is in line with the reflection of Javanese life attitudes that view and explore life as a social and symbolic harmony. The personal dimension of life is social while the essence of life is manifested symbolically.

In the wayang kulit ruwatan performance with the story of Murwakala came up with interesting things such as the existence of slametan (kenduri). In addition to various offerings such as vegetables as a symbol of freshness offered to nature and the sukrit class. A market snack that explains that life requires the services and help of others. Fruits symbolize that people who are stricken by Sukrit are expected to be fresh fit to achieve life goals.

While the kuluban vegetable symbolizes a peaceful and peaceful life that everyone dreams of. Every offering object that is on a tray or tampah becomes a tool for cleaning skrit. Even the tarub or janur installed contains the intention of the place becoming holy and the welfare of the organizer to increase and the welfare of his life is guaranteed.

The cleansing of sukrit by Ki Dalang in the wayang kulit ruwatan performance, his aesthetic touches can be seen in the arrangement of offerings, the chanting of mantras accompanied by gendhing-gendhing (Javanese karawitan music composition), eling-eling and ayak-ayak. The sound of mantras accompanied by gamelan provides an aesthetic experience and in turn will give a religious experience to the devotee.

This event shows that puppet performances are an inseparably integral part of the initiation rite. This phenomenon shows that the presentation of wayang kulit ruwatan is a means of liberation for sins that befall the Sukrit people from the threat of Dewa Kala. Thus, it can be said that the imposition of Sukrit with puppet performances, not only provides an aesthetic or religious experience but also a removal of the sins of the Sukrit group which will lead to increased welfare for humans who are unlucky to exist in this world.

The rite of initiation of ruwatan is only one example of the thousands of initiation rites in the archipelago. This shows that even though the era has now entered the millennium era, the tradition of community cultural roots in the archipelago still exists and is timeless. Precisely from this small group or community, sensitivity will be increasingly honed, that this nation must continue to eling (remember) and introspection so that the balance of life continues to be maintained and controlled.

Author: Ch. Dwi Anugrah, Head of Ganggadata Art Studio Jogonegoro Village, Mertoyudan District, Magelang Regency

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