Commemoration of 1st Suro

In Central Java and in many places in the island even outside the island where live communities of Javanese lineage, a lot of people are commemorating the first of Suro, a day considered as sacred by many Javanese.
This year 0f 2000, the commemoration is on the eve of April 6 (Wednesday evening of April 5)

They wish to 'ngalap berkah', to receive blessing from that great holy day. Some of them are doing 24 (twenty four) hours of fasting, stay awaken for the whole night, doing meditation in solitude.

Many places considered as having supernatural powers are visited by a huge crowd doing pilgrimage. Many climbers are on the top of mountain Lawu, eastward of Solo. Thousands pilgrims spend their night, without sleeping, on the south sea beach of Parang Tritis and Parang Kusumo in Yogyakarta. Mountain Dieng around 100 km southwest of Semarang are also plenty of visitors. Some springs and rivers are crowded with night bathers, the favourite places are the meeting of two rivers. Some bathers remain in the streams for several hours, only their heads appear above the water. Others remain awake until sunset on the riverbanks after bathing.

The graveyards of distinguished ancestors, kings or wise men are also plenty of pilgrims. Wayang kulit or wayangan (leather puppet) performances can be seen in many places of various cities and villages. Some believe that the best way to commemorate (Mangayu Bagyo) the 1st of Suro is by watching wayang kulit performance where the audience should receive some valuable advice on good conducts and spiritual teachings.

Other Places Commemorating 1st Suro

In the village of PANTARAN, 16 Km north of Boyolali on the eastern slope Mount Merbabu.

The cold weather is biting, the riverís water of si Pendok is almost as cold as ice. But it is not preventing the people to bathe in the river during the night. Holding and light candles, the bathers should stay in the stream around one hour until the light is off. After that many of them meditate and stay there until morning.

Pantaran was a hermitís abode of Pengging court family. The young Jaka Tingkir meditated also in this retreat, before become the king of Pajang (in the 16th century) as Sultan Hadiwijaya

Mount Merapi

The Selo villagers living in the North Slope of Merapi make a traditional mountain offering (Sedekah gunung) to commemorate 1st of Suro. The offering consist of among other a buffalo head buried on the peak of Mt. Merapi. When the condition is dangerous, it shall be buried in place locally called Pasar Bubrah.

Mount Merbabu

In the night of 1st Suro, the inhabitants living in the northern slope of Merbabu are making traditional offering in the craters' of the mountain.

Mount Sumbing and Mount Sindoro

In Temanggung and Wonosobo Regencies, about 80 Km north West of Yogya, the local people living in villages on the feet of the mountains, in the eve of 1st Suro, climb to the peaks of the mountains with more than 3000 m of height. They stay on the peaks until sunrise. It is a tradition faithfully followed by the villagers since many years ago.

Village of Guyangan, Nogotirto, Sleman, Yogyakarta

The pilgrims come to this village to bathe and drink from the well made by Demang Cokrodikromo in 1877, believing that they shall be healthy, feel young and avoiding complication of life.

It is worth to note that Tuesday Kliwon of the month of Suro believed by many as a sacred day. In the eve of Tuesday Kliwon, in many places considered as sacred in Java shall be visited by a lot of people. If there is no Tuesday Kliwon in the month of Suro, Friday Legi will do.

Kirab Pusaka (Heirlooms Procession)


The Karatons (palaces) of Surakarta and Mangkunagaran are organizing heirlooms procession in the night of 1st Suro.

Sri Susuhunan Pakubuwono XII (colorful costume)
and Sri Mangkunagoro IX (in his left) releasing the procession

Karaton Mangkunagaran

The kirab (procession) begins at 07.00 PM in the evening. 1st of Suro 1933 is coincided with 6th of April 2000 AD the Javanese year is a lunar calender, so the biginning of the day is at 06.00 PM in the evening. In that case, the 1st of Suro this year begins on Wednesday, 5th of April 2000.

In the evening of Wednesday, 5th of April 2000 at 07.00 PM, Mangkunagaran Palace shall parade some of its heirlooms, escorted by some palace's officials. The route of the parade is a walk on foot, encircling the palace from outside. The most important heirlooms taking a lead in the procession are Kanjeng Kyai Tambur and Kanjeng Kyai Poh Jenggi.

After the solemn procession, the heirlooms shall be housed again in their place. Some Pusakas of Mangkunagaran are kept in Wonogiri such as Kanjeng Kyai Togog, Kanjeng Kyai Baladewa and Kanjeng Kyai Karawelang.

Karaton Kasunanan

The heirlooms procession begins at midnight. A lot of people attending this parade, waiting along the streets, which are the route of the procession. It starts from Karaton to Alun-alun Utara (North Square) and then gladag, turn left to Pasar (market) Kliwon, Gading (South Square), Nonongan, North square again and back to Karaton.

The leader (Cucuk Lampah) of Kasunanan procession is unique, it is a white buffalo, by the name of Kyai Slamet.

The Buffalos Kanjeng Kyai Slamet

The pusakas (heirlooms) paraded are :

  • Kanjeng Kyai Baru
  • Kanjeng Kyai Kebo Mas
  • Kanjeng Kyai Slamet
  • Kanjeng Kyai Brekat
  • Kanjeng Kyai Batok
  • Kanjeng Kyai Kertaraharja
  • Kanjeng Kyai Jompong
In Surakarta, people could attend two processions in one night, at first the Mangkunagaran then the Kasunanan.


The Karaton of Yogya and Pakualaman do not organize heirlooms procession. The heirlooms are only paraded outside Karaton as in the ancient time, in case of necessity and upon the request of the community, for instance for combating epidemic, flood and fire. The appropriate powerful pusakas to combat epidemic are Kanjeng Kyai Tunggal Wulung, a black flag decorated with yellow lines on edges, with designs of a white sword, red circles in the middle and Arabic letters, flanked by Kanjeng Kyai Pareanom, a green flag with Arabic letters. They are considered as having very strong white magic to stop wide spread diseases.

In 1950's, an association of royal family by the name of Hari Dewado commemorated the first of Suro by walking together encircling the Benteng (fortress) of Karaton. This walking trip becomes 'a tradition' at every Suro night. More and more people are participating, and they do not talk during the procession, wishing to receive the safety of life.

Thousands of people attending the procession of these Karatons, even if it's raining should not prevent them to watch first Suro commemoration. Some people respect solemnly to these sacred heirlooms passing them by giving 'sembah'. It is a tradition since ancient time.

Nowadays, they are paraded in every first of Suro with a wish to give the people safety and tranquility.

Siraman Pusoko (Heirlooms Cleansing)

The Karatons are cleansing their heirlooms also in the month of Suro. It begins on Selasa Kliwon (Tuesday Kliwon) in the palace compound for several days. Excepts the internationally known seven days, Monday to Sunday. In Java, there are fivedays called Pasaran, the name of the days are Kliwon, Legi, Paing, Pon and Wage. These traditional Pasaran days, combined with the seven days prevail up to now. As there is no Tuesday Kliwon in this month of Suro 1933 (Javanese calendar) usually it will be replaced by Friday.

Except the Puro Mangkunagaran which organized the Siraman Pusoko, in the morning of 1st of Suro. This year is on the 6th of April 2000.

There are 12 (twelve) Javanese months in a year, namely :

  1. Suro
  2. Sapar
  3. Mulud
  4. Bakda Mulud
  5. Jumadil Awal
  6. Jumadil Akhir
  7. Rejeb
  8. Ruwah
  9. Poso
  10. Sawal
  11. Selo
  12. Besar
It is clear that Suro is the 1st month the Javanese New Year, some believe that 1st Suro is symbolizing the beginning of life, That's the reason why many people are honoring 1st of Suro, which means honoring the existance of holy life, moreover honoring the Almighty God, the Creator of life.

The siraman pusaka (heirlooms cleansing) take place also in Suro, in the holy month (this tradition for siraman pusaka is also valid outside Karatons). Many owners of pusakas clean their pusakas also in Suro. If they can not do it by themselves, they shall entrust it to an appropriate expert). In each Karaton there is special unit of employees who take care of heirlooms.

In the morning of around 10.00 AM, Selasa Kliwon, Suro, the siraman begins. The kings shall do the siraman of prime pusaka by themselves. In Karaton Surakarta the heirloom is Kanjeng Kyai Baru, in Yogyakarta the heirloom is Kanjeng Kyai Plered. For this prime pusaka, it can be taken from pavillion Proboyekso, by the kings themselves or by a Bupati Wanito (a high ranking woman official). Afterwords, the heirlooms are cleansed by that special unit of employees. The process are as follow :

  1. Mutihi : cleansing
  2. Marangi : smeared with a material by name of Warangan
  3. Anjamasi : smeared with cendana oil
Kindly please see in the article of heirlooms. After the cleansing is over, the pusakas are stored back in Proboyekso pavillion.

The Mangkunagaran Heirlooms in Wonogiri

The Mangkunagaran Palace has some pusakas in the village of Nglaroh, sub-district of Selagiri, in the district of Wonogiri. It is the commitment made by his highness Mangkunagoro VII to the people of Nglaroh, in honor of people of Nglaroh to support the struggle of Prince Sambernyowo or Mangkunegoro I. The Pusakas are kanjeng Kyai Totog, Kanjeng Kyai Baladewa, Kanjeng Kyai Karawelang.

A seven-meter high monument has been erected, where these pusakas are stored on the top of this monument. This monument has a shape like a temple, the stones are from Lawu mountain. The door is on the top, to open it, a ladder must be used. That door must be opened by 8 (eight) people of Selagiri, people from other sub-district is not allowed.

Heirlooms cleansing
in Selogiri

Those pusakas are brought to the pendopo (hall) of Selagiri sub-district to be cleansed. A 'Selamatan' (praying by several people is held), afterwards the pusakas are held above a brazier with the smoke of burning incense (dikutugi). Many other pusakas belonged to local people join this cleansing ceremony with the wish to get value added supernatural power.

Other meaning of the word Suro is brave. The Karaton's pusakas are originally powerful weapons to be used in battles. By cleansing in Suro, those pusakas shall keep their bravery.

(Suryo S. Negoro)

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