The tomb of Ki Ageng Gribig in Jatinom, near Klaten, Central Java, hosts the biggest rebutan event on Java’s calendar of pilgrimage rituals. Many thousands of visitors converge on the site to snap up apem cakes that are consecrated and scattered into the crowd to be fought over. The rite is called Yaqowiyu, Sebar Apem, or Apeman.
Klaten’s annual ritual Yaqowiyu spreads blessings, attracts tourists
by GANUG NUGROHO ADI
THE JAKARTA POST October 29, 2018
A ritual called sebar apem (Yaqowiyu) was celebrated in Jatinom village, Klaten, Central Java, on Friday.
Held annually during the month of Sapar in the Javanese calendar, this ritual attracts huge crowds including tourists.
Historically, Yaqowiyu is held as part of the anniversary of Javanese Islamic preacher Ki Ageng Gribig’s death. He is also known as Syeh Wasibagno.
Ki Ageng Gribig was said to have brought apem (rice flour cakes) home as a souvenir after a trip to Mecca in 1637. However, he ran out of cakes to give to his neighbors and asked his wife to make them some more.
“Ki Ageng Gribig then asked the people of Jatinom to make apem every Sapar to give to the residents. We preserve this tradition through the Yaqowiyuceremony,” said Jatinom district head Sip Anwar.
He added that Yaqowiyu in itself was part of a prayer chanted by Ki Ageng Gribig when he handed out the cakes: Ya qowiyu Yaa Assis qowina wal muslimin. Yaa qowiyu warsuqna wal muslimin.
On Friday, people could be seen parading gunungan (a mountain-shaped pile) made of around 6 tons of apem from the Jatinom Mosque to Sendang Plampeyan field.
After a prayer was conducted for the gunungan, thousands of cakes were handed out to the thousands of people who had flocked to the field. They believe that the apem they receive will bring them blessings and many kept the cakes in drawers at their stores and warung (stalls) to boost sales. Some farmers even planted the apem on their land as fertilizer to ensure a good harvest.
“Others believe apem will keep them safe, bring them wealth or even a life partner. They usually don’t eat them; they keep them for a year until the next Yaqowiyu celebration,” said Sip.
One of the visitors, Wardoyo who is a 48-year-old farmer from Tawangmangu, said he had been coming from Karanganyar to join the festivity every year.
“I usually dry the apem and turned it into fertilizer,” he added.
Industry Minister Airlangga Hartarto, Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo and Klaten Regent Sri Mulyani were among those handing out apem to the public. This is the second time that Airlangga has attended the event.
“Other than religious values, this tradition also serves as silaturahmi [good relations] among Jatinom residents who live outside the city as they usually come home during Yaqowiyu,” he said.