‘Nyadran’ in Klaten: Pre-Ramadan Javanese Ritual Held Among Temple Ruins
The Javanese ritual of nyadran is special for Krapyak villagers in Jogonalan, Klaten in Central Java. Villagers who work outside the village come home for this annual event, held each year for several days before the fasting month of Ramadan.
Nyadran is a ritual when villagers clean their ancestors’ gravesites and reunite with family members. On Sunday, April 28, hard rain poured in the village. But nyadran must go on. Locals had already prepared meals, fruits, eggs, chicken and snacks in long wooden boxes called jodang.
At noon, the rain stopped and the people swarmed the streets to go to Krapyak Cemetery. Hundreds of jodang were arranged along the main street while families gathered around the feast. Nyadran began with cleaning the graves and scattering flowers on the tombs. Prayers and eating together followed the ritual.
What makes nyadran in Krapyak special is the sight of the temple ruins that are scattered around the cemetery. Every time villagers prepare a new tomb and dig, they will encounter remnants of the past: interlocked temple stones.
Resident Setyo Purwanto, 45, said they often found artifacts in their village, which is located next to the Woro River, the headwaters of which flow from the peak of Mt. Merapi. He said remnants of unidentified temples were also found along the river. Setyo suspected that underneath the graves were holy temples from the Ancient Mataram period, which saw Hindu and Buddhist dynasties.
For the villagers, nyadran is a way to preserve Javanese culture. However, it is also fun, especially for children who race to the food while having fun and laughing.