Every year in the month of Maulud and based on the Javanese calendar, the Yogyakarta Sultanate holds a traditional ceremony called Sekaten.
The ritual, commemorating the day of the Prophet Muhammad SAW’s birth, has been observed since the era of the Demak kingdom in the 15th century.
This year’s Sekaten was marked by the sounding of two sets of palace gamelan, Kyai Nagawilaga and Kyai Guntur Madu, in the yard of the Yogyakarta Grand Mosque for an entire week.
In that same yard on the eve of the Prophet’s birthday, Yogyakarta Sultan Hamengku Buwono X conducted the strewing of udhik-udhik to symbolize royal generosity in the form of coins combined with yellow rice and petals, with visitors scuffling to grab them in the belief that those who obtain the coins will be blessed.
Following that, in the Yogyakarta Grand Mosque and its yard, the sultan and officials of the regional administration of Yogyakarta listened to an account of the history of the Prophet’s birth, which was concluded with a meal of nasi gurih (rice cooked with coconut milk).
Outside in the mosque’s yard, hundreds of sellers of traditional Sekaten food and souvenirs had been waiting since the instruments of the palace gamelan were first struck. The vendors offered nasi gurih, betel leaves for chewing and red eggs, among other delicacies.
The next morning saw the closing of the Sekaten in the northern square of the palace with the Garebeg Sekaten ritual, in which palace soldiers marched and gunungan (rice shaped like mountains) were paraded. This year, the Yogyakarta Sultanate supplied nine gunungan, five in the yard of the Grand Mosque and two at the Court of Pakualaman and two at the Yogyakarta Governor’s Office.
Thousands of Yogyakarta residents and those hailing from other cities struggled to snatch any bits
of the rice, vegetables and snacks that they could from the gunungan for blessings.
Source: Tarko Sudiarno, The Jakarta Post, Yogyakarta | Sat, 02/11/2012