Surakarta's palace Pura Mangkunegaran held interesting traditional ceremonies on Tuesday as part of the city's first ever Mangkunegaran Art Festival.
Taking place at Bangsal Prangwedanan, the "Mitoni dan Tedhak Siten"-themed festival involved six dance performances presented by dancers from Sanggar Tari Soerya Soemirat GPH Herwasto Kusumo.
"The dances are called Gambyong Retno Kusumo, Prawira Tamtama, Bambangan, Bandabaya, Kembang Sepasang and Sigrak," said the festival's head of coordinator KRMT Hudoko Artisto.
He added that two of the dances were created by the sultans Mangkunegoro VIII and IV.
"Mitoni dan Tedhak Siten" itself, according to Hudoko, is part of Javanese cultural heritage that used to be regularly performed by local people. But, as modernity has crept in the ceremonies are no longer considered an important part of their daily lives.
Literally, the term 'Tedhak Siten' derives from two Javanese words: 'tedhak' (which means setting foot on) and 'siten' ( which means the ground or the earth). The ceremony is basically a Javanese ritual for a child that hasn't yet set foot on the ground.
“The ceremony is conducted by guiding the child to step on a seven-colored mat and then leading him or her to climb stairs made from reddish cane and standing on sand,” explained Hudoko.
The ritual continues by putting the child into a big cage filled with various objects such as stationery, musical instruments and medical equipment. The child will then be persuaded to choose one of the objects available.
"The Mangkunegaran Art Festival is part of the government's efforts to re-introduce traditional ceremonies, especially Tedhak Siten, to modern Javanese society."
“The first object the child takes in his or her hands will symbolize his or her interest and aspirations in the future,” said Hudoko.
According to Surakarta Deputy Mayor Ahmad Purnomo, the Mangkunegaran Art Festival is part of the government's efforts to re-introduce traditional ceremonies, especially Tedhak Siten, to modern Javanese society.
"It is our commitment to preserve the tradition as part of Indonesia's cultural heritage," added Ahmad.