Mayu Desa, An Ancient Purge in Modern Day in Mount Bromo
Mayu Desa is humble offerings of nature in order to ensure harmonious relationships between men dan their surroundings. It is an expression of unwavering faith and gratitude by the people of Tegger, held once every five years in the villages at the high plain.
Mount Bromo in East Java and its desert is already a world-known destination. The former caldera with a range of mountains at its center offers majestic views to visitors. But this time I visited the place not only to breathe in the panorama. Once every five years according to Tenggerese calender, the local people celebrate Mayu Desa.
The Tenggerese, believed as the only original Hindu community in modern Java, perform several fascinating sacred ceremonies throughout the year. But Mayu Desa assumes a special place because it symbolizes the basic principle of Tenggerese lifestyle, signifying human beings frailty before Mother Nature.
Being always an urban dweller, I was immediately captivated by the genuinely spirited atmosphere in Wonokitri village, 10 kilometres from Mount Bromo. It is the place where Mayu Desa would be performed with guests coming from all of the 19 villages on the slopes around the high plain.
Wearing thier traditional costumes, men, women and children of Wonokitri gathered around a clearing to witness the arrival of a well-bred buffalo. This honored beast would be the main offering at the ceremony, specifically selected for the occasion. For the moment, it would be tied to a post while people were preparing food, fruits, and snacks arranged on ancaks. A shallow, flat receptacle made of bamboo, ancak would be used to carry all the offering to the temple.
In Wonokitri, Mayu Desa also functions as an event to “nglumpukke balung pisah” meaning gather scattered bones. It’s Javanese expression representing a call for the people living in other places. All Tenggerese descendants must return in order to strengthen the ancestral and traditional ties. What a crowd it was when the village was in the middle of joyous hustle and bustle.
On the night prior to Mayu Desa, people gathered to mark the end of the preparation in an event called Pamepek, a festivity on its own. Dukun Pandita, the village priest, along with the elders led a prayer near the offerings set out in the village hall. After a collectivity spirited dinner, the Tayub dancing began.
Far on the high plains, in a remote sanctuary upholding ancient traditions, The Tenggerese faithfully live in the most harmonious terms with nature.