Monday, June 29, 2009

Yet another trip to Belakang Padang

A relative had invited us to attend a reception to commemorate their son's circumcision. I had expected a small affair, just some food and prayers and a small gathering.

What greeted me was a full-blown mega reception which involved the whole village, much akin to a wedding.

I've heard of the Javanese Muslims holding their son's circumcision in high regard and this is my first time encountering it.

FYI, in Islam, circumcision to a boy is a must and he must be circumcised, preferably before he reached puberty.

A culture-vulture will be delighted at the presence of the popular 'kuda-kepang, barongan' and even the 'reog', which is native to the region of Ponorogo at East Java.

Guys in 'Barongan' masks.

I arrived at around 2pm, just in time too witness the arrival of these 2 fellas who came from the arena outside, to welcome the 'Prince of the Day', the boy who's just had his circumcision.

My mum was quick to pull me in, knowing my penchant for being really curious and getting near such things. Thing is, barongans are usually associated with things mystical. Given my condition, I should stay away, to avoid the risk of getting 'unnecessarily involved'.

The boy being carried on his father's back.

His daddy swiftly changed out of his smart batik shirt and wore a barongan mask (scaring his little daughter, at that), before carrying his Prince on his back.

They then ventured out to the arena outside, led by the other 2 guys in the masks and followed by a procession of villagers, most of them kids.

Pleasing scenery.

While they precession went away, I took advantage of the dwindled crowd to indulge in their food (not to worry, another entry!)...

..and take in the surroundings.

The dais.

Yes, they've even had a corner done up with a dais and all - not unlike a wedding. They sure go all out, huh....? For a circumcision. Guess we dun see the deal here but over there, it sure is a big thing.

Find her familiar?

Let me jolt your memory through HERE.

I was really surprised to see the tomboy who had harassed me back then, looking all demure. With her face made up, her hair accessorised and dressed like a mini-bride.

I sympathised with her then. The tomboy who had every urge to get out and play, being constrained by that trtaditional wrap-around 'batik wiron' and... her mum.

Having worn that garb during my wedding, I'm well aware as to how uncomfortable that velvety top was. What more in that humid heat.

Poor thing. But bored as she was, she still looked cute....

Waiting for the arrival of her bro.

Soon a small commotion ensued. Her bro was making his way back from whatever ceremonial rites at the arena outside, by the main 'road'.

So little Salsabilla was tidied up went back to her position at the dais, as if to welcome her bro.

Here he comes...

Wow, I had expected him to be re-carried back there on his father's back but I didn't anticipate him being on the 'reog', as if riding it.

The procession being led by a group of female 'kuda kepang' dancers, the 'reog' following behind, with him.

At the dais.

After he got down (and the wraparound batik put in place), he went back to his position at the dais, by his sister.

You may find this pretty contemptuous, but it's all kinda' innocent. Even the royalties of long ago, when the unmarried brother reign the throne, his sister will accompany him while in court.

'Reog' performance.

Meanwhile, the 'reog' outside continued to perform a ritual dance.

Honestly, that whole gear weighed over 20 or 30kg at least. How the performer managed to carry it all the way and EVEN dance in it... I really wonder.

Though it's no secret that 'barongans' DO practice mysticism, involving trance and totemic worship.

Go figure.

Rear view.

It's obvious that the 'reog' is made to resemble a tiger. Read HERE for a detailed explanation on the 'reog'.

Back to the arena.

After around 15mins of performing outside the reception area, the 'reog' finally turned around and made it's way back to the arena outside.

It's amusing the see the whole lot of villagers, who were avidly watching, also following suit. Thus a procession formed behind it - not unlike a scene from 'The Pied Piper'.

The arena.

As we rushed back to head for the jetty, I caught sight of the 'reog' still on with its performance at the arena.

...Pardon that boy, I took this (hurried) shot from the trishaw.

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