Sometimes we can find an unexpectable thing, but it is more interesting than our original destination. Example, if you wanna go to place A, but on the way you see something attracts your eyes till you forget your planned destination. I think you have experienced it, right? Me? absolutely yes! This morning incidentally I decided to visit Old Banten, an old site of Banten sultanate where you can see many ruins of palaces, royal tombs, and old classic mosque which becomes people’s pilgrimage destination from all parts of Indonesia. Okay, I won’t tell them first, but I wanna tell you about something I never think about before….eerrr….I think it’s better if I say, unthinkable. Because I never think about knowing such traditions particularly in Serang, Banten. Just visiting The Old Banten, and that’s it!
Along with my ojek rider (someone who offers ride for go around and we give some amount of money for them), I intended to go back for buying some milkfish satay (milkfish satay is one of local traditional food), and when we passed through a mosque in Karangserang village, I saw an interesting thing over there. There were so many beautiful decorated things. Some formed like shark, some others like ship, or only simple form. Those were made mostly of bamboo and covered with many decorations consisted of daily needs, snack, shirts, moslem dresses, sarongs, batiks, kids’ stuffs, and the most eye catching one is some amount of money shown there. I asked the ojek rider to stop over and walked into the small mosque. I was so fascinated for seeing it, some decorations consisted of colored-decorated boiled eggs. Do you know what happened next? some people asked me whether I am a journalist. I just answered : “I’m just an ordinary people who all of sudden finding this event.”
I asked so many times to them, maybe akin to journalist one..haha. And alhamdulillah (Thank’s God), their responses were so good, they even asked me to publish what I had seen and felt here.
One of the ulama told me (not just him, but also others) that it is always held every month of Rabiul-Awal or locally said Mulud, and the offering was made from one until several days before, except rice, milkfish, chicken and the boiled eggs. All of them were from villagers’ efforts and voluntary in base, and intended to commemorate The Prophet Mohammad PbUH’s birthday during the month. From rich until poor helped each other and gave their donation as far as they can to make the offering called ‘Panjang’ in local language. Remember, the offering here is nothing but for themselves as it will be returned to people who give their donation. He said, never look at the amount and physics, but see it from the essentials….help each other and always doing a good deed for your own and others’ life.
If I wasn’t mistaken, there were more than 80 offerings and its coming was celebrated by tambourine ensemble, as well as fireworks which made me dizzy. The largest one was elephant one which consisted of muslim dresses and sarongs.
It was so deep philosophy, maybe for some, it looks too extravagant. But it has become tradition for hundred years especially in Serang regency. Luckily, I met one of them, though in village level. The ojek rider told me, the greater event is about to be on Wednesday. However, that’s so late…as I am still at work and will be off from 30 January to 2 February (what a long week-end, then). I had to leave the celebration when the day went on, after praying Zuhr, all will be given to firstly, the ulamas, and then locals. Extravagant or not? think over. But as I’ve mentioned before, look its positive side, because the most important thing here is for commemorate and charity, at least for people surroundings.
For me, it is unthinkable but the best deepened thing in my mind. And this is one of Indonesian’s cultural richness. Every Rabiul Awal or Maulid month (based on Islamic lunar year), just visit Serang, Banten and you’ll see this tradition. I hope it will be useful for opening your mind about Indonesia..more than just before.
I am not a tourist, I am just an ordinary traveller who happened to see many unthinkable things around.