Ruwatan or Ruwatan Murwakala

It is a ritual traditional event by performing wayang puppets with the story of Murwakala, with purpose to live safely & happily.
Batara Kala, a bad son of god Guru, who was entitled to eat human-beings in the list of Sukerta. Sukerta or Sukarta means a decent deed or to be loved. In the story of Murwakala, sukerta is a child or children who are loved very much by their parents. Their safety and happiness are concerned by the parents, because they are in the list of Sukerta.


the procession

There are about 25 categories of sukerta, among other :

1. Ontang anting:
the only boy in the family, with no brothers & sisters
2. Unting- unting:
the only girl in the family
3. Gedhana- gendhini:
a boy & a girl in the family
4. Uger-uger lawang:
2 boys in the family
5. Kembar Sepasang:
2 girls in the family
6. Pendhawa :
5 boys in the family
7. Ngayomi:
5 girls in the family Etc.


ask blessing from parents

Also people who has accidents when they are doing something and these accidents are considered dangerous, they are also Sukerta a.o. :

  1. People who fall down rice-cooker when boiling rice
  2. People who break " gandik " a kind of tool from stone to make jamu (Traditional herbal medicine)

Those above Sukerta people must be protected from Batara Kala by performing Ruwatan Murwakala. This Ruwatan performance is considered as very sacred, it must be prepared carefully.

The Story of Murwakala

In one beautiful afternoon, god Guru & his wife, goddess Uma riding his bull Andini encircling the world. The scenery was very beautiful, god Guru also saw that his wife was also very beautiful. At once, he wanted to make love with her. Despite her rejection that it was not a proper time & place to make love, Guru in the peak of sexual desire forced her. While he reached orgasm, goddess Uma pushed him, freed herself from his strong embrace which was full of lust. Thus, his sperms fell into the sea and became a big bad giant - Kala. So Kala was a mistaken product. Due to mistake, Kala, a son of gods, became an ogre giant who wished to eat only human flesh.

Batara Guru, his father gave permission to Kala to eat people of Sukerta. But after having a discussion with god Narada, his Patih (Prime Minister) , the "menu" for Kala was too much.

Then Guru wrote a mantra (magic spells) in Kala's chest. He decided that people who is able to read this mantra, must be considered as Kala's father, although he is a child. Kala has to respect him/her. As only a few people knew this mantra, victim of Kala was still a lot. Secretly Guru went down to the earth, in disguise as a Dalang (Wayang puppet master), his name was Ki Dalang Kandabuwana.

Kala surrendered and he was instructed by Ki Dalang to live in the jungle of Krenda wahana . Kala agreed to never bother the Sukertas which have been adopted as Ki Dalang's children, those were Sukertas who have joined the Ruwatan Murwakala.

Kala asked to be blessed by Santi Puja Mantra - Sacred manteras, Ki Dalang agreed by bathing him with water & flowers. Before leaving to the jungle, Kala asked some offerings consisting of agricultural crops and tools, kitchen utensils, some cattles such as: cows, buffaloes, sheep, chicken, ducks etc, long cloths, some food and mat, pillow and blanket to be used on his way to the jungle.

After Kala left, Ki Dalang instructed Bima or god Bayu to chase away all Kala's troops by using a broom with silver rope and a whip.

At the end, the dalang should cut the hairs of the sukertas and bathe them with water and flowers.

The lessons of Ruwatan Murwakala

  1. The people says that Kala is a product of (in local language) Kama-Salah, mistaken sperm, a mistaken product. This would like to say that sexual relation between a man and a woman should be performed in a good manner, at a proper time and place. It should not exposing only a bodily lust, which could give a birth to a bad manner child.
  2. The offerings asked by Kala represent things which are needed for human life. They are also symbolizing love to motherland with all its products.

Important things during Ruwatan

  1. The Dalang - He must be a wise & qualified dalang, symbolically he should be the adopted father of the Sukerta.
  2. Proper manner of the performance. The sukertas & their families should involve with a deep feeling during the performance, to understand the essential meaning of the Kidung (sacred songs/ mantras) sung by the Dalang.
    The Sukertas and their parents wear traditional Javanese costume. Befor the wayang leather puppet performance begins, they ask blessing from their parents.
    During the wayang performance, continued by the rites, hair cutting and bathing, the Sukertas dress in white clothes. White color mystically indicates holiness.
  3. The holy water used to bathe the Sukertas must be from seven different springs.

Some notes of Ruwatan:

The Sukertas are not only children but adults as well. The adults who work carelessly, as the result there of, make other people to suffer, in the ancient time was considered of making serious mistakes, they are also Sukertas.

The above examples show:

  • an adult lets fall rice-cooker which cooking. He/She would make the whole family to suffer, because there won,t be nice on the table or they have to past pone their meal for hours.
  • An adult breaks a "gandik" a tool of stone to make jamu-traditional herbal medicine. In the ancient time it was a big mistake. Gandik is an important tool to produce medicine in order to protect and to care a sick family member.

In fact the "jamu" is not only medicine but it is also vitamin like products. Which is needed to lake carre family's health babies, children and parents. It is a home made products, the tool to prepare jamu is "gandik".

The world "kala" lit means time. There are bad and good time for everybody. It someone is suffering from different reasons : accident, sickness mistakes, sims etc, it is called that the person is having a bad time. People would try to avoid of having bad time, people seeks to live in safety and happiness. Due to above reason, at present, especially dreams the period of multi-dimensional crisis in the country where many people feel the situation is not secured, more people join the rite Ruwatan, with purpose to avoid Kala's attack.

God Guuru, the supreme god, the power holder of the universe, descends to the earth as Dalang - Wayang Puppet master, to tell Sukertas and people, what to do to avoid of becoming victims of Batara Kala, who is one of his awu sons.
The name of the Dalang is Kandabuwana. (Kanda : to tell to advise, buwana : the world) so those people following his advice would be safe and happy.
It must be implemented by performing a Rite - Ruwatan Murwakala.

Everybody can perform Ruwatan Murwakala, usually the nicer families organize their own Ruwatan. They would invite a suitable dalang who could perform the Ruwatan. It must be noted, that not every dalang wishes to perform Ruwatan. The dalangs consider Ruwatan Murwakala as a heavy responsibility.
Considering financial expenses, several foundations organize the rite- Ruwatan, from time to time.

The Javanologi Institute of Panunggalan in Yogyakarta performs Ruwatan Murwakala once a year. This ruwatan joint by sukertas from Indonesia and foreign countries among other Europe, Asia, USA etc.

In Jakarta, Ruwatan performs by Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (TMII) also from time to time.

Nowadays, a dalang from Yogyakarta performs regularly Ruwatan Murwakala two to four times a month, participated by around too Sukertas in every Ruwatan.
The expands 'his business' also in Jakarta, twice a month, joint by a lot of Sukertas, wishing to live in safety and happiness, free from any trouble.

Ruwatan in Karaton SURAKARTA

In January 17, 1998, a traditional Ritual of Ruwatan was organized in Surakarta Royal Palace (Karaton). It is the first ruwatan occurred in the history of Karaton Surakarta, as among the SUKERTAS protected was the King-Sri Susuhunan Pakubuwono XII himself, together with his 32 children and 17 sons/daughters-in-law.

In the history of Mataram dynasty, in the 17th century, Sultan Agung had been "protected" in Ruwatan Ritual while he was a Crown Prince. The ceremony began at 9.00 a.m in the palace compound. The SUKERTAS changed their dresses by wearing white brahmana dresses as sign of holiness to pay respect to the king by kneeling and kissing his knee (SUNGKEM or NGABEKTI in Javanese) in the Dalem Ageng (great hall) PRABASUYASA. The performance of wayang kulit (leather puppet) with the story of MURWAKALA was held in the new renovated building SASANA ONDROWINO.

The Ruwatan has been performed very sacredly, the court family has been prepared to be in a holy state mentally and physically. All guests were required to wear complete Javanese dress, has to remain solemn and not allowed to eat, drink and smoke during the ceremony.

The Karaton's gamelan instruments by the names of Kyai Manis and Manis Renggo accompanied the wayang show. A complete set of offerings (Sajen) was placed nearby the wayang screen. The SUKERTAS hair was one by one cut a bit by the dalang (puppet master). The holy bathing with water and flowers, except in the beginning was also done by the dalang. It is worth to be noted, that the assigned person to cut hair and bathe Sinuwun- the King Pakubuwono XII, was Princess G.R.AJ. Brotodiningrat, his aunt, as she is the daughter of Sri Pakubuwono X.

The purpose of Karaton Surakarta's Ruwatan

Sinuwun Sri Pakubuwono XII was satisfied and feeling relief after the completion of the ceremony. He was grateful to the Dalang, Ki Panut Darmoko, from Nganjuk, East Java who has conducted the Ruwatan safely and perfectly. As the Dalang himself he felt greatly honored doing a special Ruwatan in Karaton, the first in his life. The other famous Dalangs in Solo, they did not dare to perform this specific task.

Sinuwun said that the Ruwatan was held for the safety of the family, the Karaton and all its contents. Hopefully it should give a good impact to the nation and the country which at present are suffering an economic crisis. Further more Sinuwun Pakubuwono XII said to the press:
"This Ruwatan should not be considered as something unusual. It is the implementation of WANGSIT (Javanese for divine inspiration) to free us from SUKERTA's dangerous position".

The comments from Sri Mangkunagoro IX

Another court leader in Solo, K.G.P.A.A. Mangkunagoro IX accepts positively the Ruwatan of Karaton Surakarta. He is confident that the impact of the Ruwatan spiritually should benefit many other things, including the Mangkunagaran Palace and even the country. The Ruwatan is manifestation of our pray and request to the Holy God.

(Joglosemar Online is grateful to Princess G. R.A.Y. Koes Ismaniyah for the photos).

(Suryo S. Negoro)


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