Sugar Cane Marriage in Yogyakarta

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Two bundles of sugar cane, each has nine canes of about four meter length, are put on a chaise drawn by two horses. One bundle is named Kyai Sukro, the other is Nyai Pon. Kyai Sukro and Nyai Pon will get “married” today, in a ceremony known as Manten Tebu (Javanese; literally means Sugar Cane Marriage) or Cembengan (from Chinese word qingbing).

Four Punakawans (Javanese mythological creatures) walk along on the left- and right-hand sides of the chaise. They are Semar, Gareng, Petruk, and Bagong. Lines of people in red Javanese soldier dress are behind the chaise, followed by sugar mill factory workers and sugar cane farmers, all in Javanese traditional dress. On their tail are folk art groups like topeng ireng (black mask) dancers and liong (dragon) dancers.

The procession starts from the Madu Candya Hall in the Madukismo Sugar Mill Factory complex in Padokan, Tirtonirmolo village, Kasihan district, Bantul regency, Yogyakarta province, Indonesia. They round the factory complex and the surrounding kampung. The procession stops at An-Nuur Mosque, behind the complex, where Kyai Sukro and Nyai Pon are officially “married” by a penghulu (imam). Then they continue to walk to the sugar milling unit inside the factory.

Kyai Sukro and Nyai Pon then are crossed on the sugar milling machine. Those who participate in the procession gather on the yard besides the milling unit and pray together. Offering packages to be put all across the working unit in the factory complex are neatly arranged at the center of the gathering. Among the offerings are a carabao (water buffalo) head, which will be buried in front of the milling unit, and an ox head, which will be put on the milling machine before later be buried in front of the factory complex.

The procession is to celebrate the beginning of sugar milling season. The marriage of the two sugar cane bundles simbolizes fertility, which signifies the hopes of the propietors for the factory to produce plentiful sugar.


Budi N.D. Dharmawan © 2011