A Ritual for 7th Month of pregnancy
When a would-be mother is 7th month pregnant, carrying her first baby in her womb, a ritual ceremony called Mitoni is performed. (Mitoni is from the word pitu means seven). This traditional ceremony aims to request Godís blessings for the safety of the would be parents and the baby. Hopefully, the whole family shall live safely, happily and the child should bring a good life to the family. The child should have a noble life.
The whole ceremony consist of several steps of ritual, such as:
The Siraman could take place either in the family bathroom or in a special place in the backyard of the house, specially designed for this purpose. "Siraman" is from the word "Siram" means to take a bath. This holy bathing (Siraman) ritual in Mitoni is meant to purify the would be parents and the baby.
In a spacious green garden of a Javanese mansion, a special place has been beautifully arranged for a Mitoniís Siraman Ceremony. A big golden bowl full with water and sritaman flowers, consist of rose, yasmin, magnolia and cananga is there. The water itself is holy water from seven springs.
In a bright sunny morning, a melodious gamelan music is being played to commemorate a Mitoni ceremony in the house of the would be motherís parent. Several ladies in colorful traditional Kebaya (shirts) and Batik cloths are participating to give their blessing.
The would-be parent, wearing no accessories such as ring, bracelet, necklace, ear-ring etc. dressed in white loose cloth, escorted by several ladies are coming to the bath-place In the back garden. They are seated on chairs covered with old mat depicting that a man should work in accordane with his/her ability and several kind of plant leaves of opok-opok, alang-alang, oro-oro, dadap srep and awar-awar depicting safety and the leaves of kluwih depicting a more prosperous life.
The first person to bath the couple is the grand-father and then the grand mothers followed by several elder women with good moral back-ground who have already grand children. Usually there are 7 peoples to bath them, 7 is in Javanese Pitu, so they can give Pitulungan, means help.
At last, the couple is purified with holy water from seven springs, from an earthen were "KENDI" flash with a neck and a spout. When the Kendi is empty, it is broken on the floor, when the Kendiís spout is not broken, it is believed, the baby should be a boy, otherwise itís a girl.
Tropong: a small wooden weaving instrument is pushed thru a tube (tropong) made of 7 color textile cloth. It is prayed, the childís delivery should be smooth and safe.
At the end of Siraman, the couple is dried with towels. The husband is dressed in a room, and the pregnant wife has to continue with other ritual in another room.
Note: Siraman with bathing a couple is in accordance with Mataram/old Yogyakartaís tradition. Nowadays usually in many occasions, the "Troping-pushing" is not performed only the would be mother is bathed.
Dressing-up the would be mother
Several elder mothers shall dress her with breast and batik cloth. There are 6 kinds of batik pattern and one lurik cloth prepared for his occasion, all pattern have good suitable wishes for the family and the baby, among other:
The pattern of Ksatrian (responsible fighter); Wahyu Tumurun (heavenís revelation to live in honorable position); Sidomukti (to live prosperously), etc. One by one different batik cloth has been tried by her, but only the seventh cloth of lurik (traditional woven cloth) is suitable for her, the pattern is Lasem.
Lurik Lasem is depicting, a weaving of a happy love, it should last for a long time, lurik is a simple material, but strong, so it should be the life of the family. The cords from coconut leaves and yarn which wrapped the would be mother are cut by her husband by using a Keris. The tip of the keris is covered by turmeric.
Thatís mean that all obstacles faced by the family should be cut by the father. After cutting the cords, the father takes three steps back, turns around and runs away outside the house. This action depicts the smooth birth of the baby.
2 young yellow ĎGading" coconuts pushed thru the lurik cloth. Both the coconuts fall down to the pile of unworn batiks. Itís also depicting a safe birth. The coconuts (of Gading family-small and yellow in color; gading means ivory) are carved with drawing of God Kamajaya Ė the handsome and faithful God and goddess Ratih-the beautiful and faithful goddess. The married couple should have also a faithful relation.
The baby, a boy or a girl, just the same, shall be born safely and hopefully should be handsome as Kamajaya or beautiful as Ratih.
Itís a Javanese word for eggs hatching. The couple sits on the pile of batik cloths as if sit on eggs, so the baby should be delivered on the proper time safely. They take different food from the offering which they put on a big stone plate (cobek).
They eat it together. They have to eat all what they have taken The big Cobek depicting the babyís placenta. In Yogyakarta, the offering for Angremís ritual does not contain meat and other food from slaughtered animal. The couple is still concern for the baby.
These coconuts and the batik cloths should be put on the bed by elder persons, the best is by the grand mother and the grand father. Those things should stay and sleep together for the whole night with the would be parent. Itís an exercise to take care of the baby patiently.
In the next morning, the would be father breaks the coconuts, but if another pregnant women is asking these coconuts, they must be given to her. She and her husband shall do the breaking of the coconuts. It would like to say that in life, someone should not be egoistic, helping each other is appreciated.
Note: Nowadays, in the "brojolan" of coconuts, the future father, without seeing the coconuts, select one coconut and cuts through it, using a sharp chopping knife. If the coconut splitted in two, the audience would roar: "It's a girl". If from the coconut emerges a fountain like coconut milk, the audience would comment: "It's a boy". The other coconut is carried by the mother of the would be mother using a cloth sling and put it on the bed of the future parent.
The Legend and the Offering
The Mitoniís ritual has been held since ancient time. Hereunder is the legend: there was a couple, the husband was Ki Sedya and the wife was Niken Satingkeb. She had delivered 9 babies, but all of them could not live until adult. The couple was very sad, they went to their King, the wise, just and clever King Jayabaya, having a sharp intuition (lived in the 11th century).
The wise and just Jayabaya, gave a fatherly advice to the couple. It was a proof that Jayabaya, the King with great dignity, whole-heartedly took care of his peopleís fate, although Ki Sedya and Niken Satingkeb were only ordinary people.
The spiritual deed:
Traditional sajen/offering is important in Javanese ritual.
Mitoniís offering consist of:
A coconut tree is very useful, all parts of the tree i.e. the fruit, the leaves, the tree/wood are useful. Hopefully, the baby shall be a useful human being.
Ki Sedya and Niken Satingkeb succeeded in their effort, after practicing the advice of King Jayabaya. The other name of Mitoni is Tingkeban, in remembrance of Satingkeb. Nowadays, this Mitoni or Tingkeban ritual is still performed in Java and other places with Javanese lineage. No matter, which religion they profess or what profession they have, Mitoni could be performed by intellectual or ordinary people. They do it solemnly and at the same time with enthusiasm.
At the end of ritual, the happy couple is selling rujak (mixed of slices of fruits with hot sambal) and dawet (sweet refreshment drink, the juice is mixed of coconut milk and sugar with small pieces of soft cookies).
The payment is made with a piece of earthen roof-tile. Rujak is symbolizing enthusiastic life and dawet in this case is called dawet plencing, dawet is a healthy drink, plencing, if someone is leaving a place or a gathering without asking permission from the host or leaving unnoticed, dawet plencing is depicting a smooth and safe birth of the baby.
The source of this Mitoni article is
Mrs. Tati Soetadi Prawiroatmodjo, address: Karangwuni A. 15, Jl. Kaliurang Km 5 Yogyakarta 55281.
A pemaes (Javanese bridal make-up expert) and an expert of Javanese ritual. Sometimes, she performs as Master of Ceremony in performance related to Javanese ritual, as Mitoni or Tingkeban, Tedak Siten etc.
She lives happily in Yogyakarta with her husband, a retired official since 1985. The couple has 4 grown-up children, 3 are university graduates, the youngest is a university student in the last semester.
Some photos are from Pak Mulyono, from Sasminta Mardawa Dance Institution and Dr. Elsa Ludiro, from DR. Sardjito Hospital, Gajah Mada University, Yogyakarta. Joglosemar Online is grateful to them.
(Suryo S. Negoro)