The Ups and Downs of Being A Javanese Baby

The Javanese is the biggest ethnic groups in Indonesia. From the name, we can guess that the Javanese live in Java Island of Indonesia. The culture of the Javanese is a mix between Muslim, Hindu, and syncretic culture. There are many rituals in the life of Javanese people. After being born, even before one can talk, a Javanese baby will have a few ceremonies waiting ahead of him. In this article, we will discuss some of the ceremonies.




Mitoni, the Celebration of Seven

Despite hasn’t being born, in the 7th month of his/ her mother’s pregnancy, a Javanese baby can be the receiving end of a quite complex ritual. In Javanese culture, number 7 is sacred, and the Mitoni (from Javanese “pitu” = seven) is filled by sevens, ranged from seven batik clothes until seven sambals for offerings.

The main event of the ceremony the mother is being bathed by women relatives in flowery water (“siraman”), wearing only white cloth. After the bath, the mother then being purified with holy water from “kendi” earthenware, which is being emptied then dropped. If it’s broken, the baby is believed to be a girl, and the opposite, a boy.

Selapanan, Collision of Traditional and Modern

There are 5 days in Javanese Calendar’s week. Combined with Gregorian calendar, it is exactly 35 days after your birthday you have your birth date back in both. Instead of a birthday celebration, it is actually a symbol of gratitude for the healthiness of the baby. In this ceremony, the most striking ritual is parasan, shaving baby’s hair. It is believed that congenital hair is originated from amniotic fluid that has to be removed for health.


Tedhak Siten, the Foot-Stepping Ceremony

Tedhak is Javanese word means foot-stepping. Siten comes from the word Siti which means earth. Tedhak siten means stepping foot on the earth. This festivity is being held when a baby reached its 7 selapan birthday (there are 35 days in one selapan cycle, so that it is the 245th day). The ceremony starts with the child being guided to walk on 7 different coloured glutinous rice cakes. Following after, the child is being guided to a cock’s cage to choose one trinket believed to be related to his/ her future profession. After that, the kid will be bathed in flowery water, completed with changing to a new set of clothes. The ritual symbolizes that the child is ready to face a successful life with God’s blessing and elder’s guidance.

Sunatan, the gate to adulthood

If you are a Javanese boy, it is very likely that you have your circumcision celebration in your prepubescent days. The circumcision is a rite of passage of a boy on his way to adulthood. Following the circumcision, it is customary to hold shadow puppet performance and invite relative for celebration. A unique ritual mixing Islamic tradition, the ritual doesn’t exist in Hindu-dominant Balinese and Tenggerese.

In the end, all of those Javanese rituals are held not only for the sake of rituals but also acted as a way for appreciating the wonder of human’s birth. In the world, there have to be many rituals related to a baby’s birth. How about the rituals celebrated in your country?

Source: Wikipedia Basa Jawi,


About Ky

Currently Indonesian university student trying to submit more useful contents to share one's limited knowledge. Rather has wide, shallow interests, the writings will be as sporadic as it can be. Should write more scientific and field related topics, but writing muse says otherwise. Expect more on technical related writings especially softwares and apps, cultures, music, and random things.

Posted on August 31, 2013, in Learning, Rambling and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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