THE Indonesian Muslims across the country, on Tuesday, commemorated the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) with different rituals and offerings, hoping to seek blessings from God with the prophet’s intercession.The rituals included processions such as the horse cart march, decorated vehicle parades, and ‘Baayun Anak’, a ceremony where the parents place their babies on swings to mark their presence on earth.
All of these rituals are an acculturation of local cultures and religious values.
The Prophet Muhammad was born on the twelfth day of Rabiul Awal, which is the third month of the Higera year. The date Tuesday, January 14, 2014, coincided with the prophet’s birthday, Rabiul Awal 14, 1435 Hijrah.
Thousands of Muslims in the Madiun District, East Java, observed the prophet’s birthday at the Mediun City Square. The ceremony presented ‘Gunungan Jaler and Gunungan Estri’, which are Jaler and Estri offerings, as part of the ‘Grebeg Maulud’ or the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday ceremony.
The locals believe that they will be blessed after obtaining some of the offerings. Therefore, after the ceremony they jostled with each other to obtain their share of the offerings.
They had congregated at the square since early morning. They were prepared to face any kind of situation in order to obtain a share of the offerings, which comprised the local produce such as fruits. Some even got trampled and had to be given medical treatment.
They believed that obtaining a part of the offerings will invite good fortune and prosperity.
“We believe that we will be blessed, and our prayers will be answered if we can get a part of the Gunungan Jaler (male offering) and Gunungan Estri (female offering),” Winarti, a Madiun resident stated.
Before being contested, the Gunungan Jaler and Gunungan Estri, which comprised crop yields such as fruits, vegetables, and food, were firstly taken to the Ancient Kuncen Mosque and Park in the Taman Sub-District and finally, to the Madiun Grand Mosque near the Madiun Square.
“The annual Grebeg Maulud ceremony with Gunungan Jaler dan Estri marches is held to express our gratitude to God, celebrate the prophet’s birth, preserve the local culture as a form of religious tourism, and Islamic propagation,” Madiun City Community Leader Ki Anteb Sugito remarked.
A Grebeg Maulud ceremony was also organized by the Sultanate of Yogyakarta in central Java, to commemorate the birth of the Prophet Mohammad.
The highlight of the ceremony was a parade in which three piles made from the local harvest or “gunungan”, were carried through the North Square of the Palace to the Grand Mosque located in the western part of the square.
The march was led by the traditional soldiers of the Yogyakarta Sultanate such as the Wirobrojo, Daeng, Patangpuluh, Jogokaryo, Prawirotomo, Nyutro, Ketanggung, Mantrijero, Bugis, and Surokarso. Palace soldiers, seated on four elephants, led the parade and were the special attraction for the spectators.
On their arrival at the mosque, the gunungans were blessed by the clerics. The people then thronged to receive their share of the gunungans, which they believed was a kind of blessing for them.
Among the local harvest piled up in the gunungans, were beans and fruits. Sumarjo, a resident of nearby Klaten District, stated that he and his family had come to the square since early morning to witness the ceremony, which marks the peak of a month-long night market held at the square.
In Cirebon, West Java, the prophet’s birthday on Tuesday was marked with a “Panjang Jimat” ceremony, a unique ritual to preserve a fetish, which contained “shahada”.
“Besides commemorating the prophet’s birthday, the Panjang Jimat ritual that was held at the Kraton Kesepuhan Palace, was also organized for preserving the local culture, which also attracts tourists,” stated Faturrahman, a visitor who came from Kalimantan.
Faturrahman noted that the ceremony is highly revered by the Muslims.
For people blessed with babies, the occasion of the prophet’s birthday is a golden opportunity to have the Bayuun Anak ritual during what is termed as the “Baayun” Maulid Nabi ceremony, particularly in the Tapin District, South Kalimantan.Mohandas, the head of South Kalimantan Tourism Service, claimed that the participants of the “Baayun” Maulid Nabi ceremony held on Tuesday, increased to 5,196 from about four thousand visitors last year.
He explained that the Baayun Anak ritual, which is held during the prophet’s birthday ceremony, is an annual traditional event for the local Muslims or the Banjarese locals, in particular.
Different rituals were also held in the West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) province. Traditional ceremonies were held by the locals in different districts of the province such as the Lombok Barat, Lombok Tengah, Lombok Timur, and the provincial capital city of Mataram.
According to H. Nurdin, a noted religious figure, the ceremonies were held with various activities such as azan or the call for prayers and the Quran-reading contests.
In East Nusa Tenggara (NTB), the local Muslims observed the prophet’s birthday with local traditions held at the mosques. The peak of the ceremony was held at Al-Baitul Qodim Mosque in Air Mata Sub-District. Usually, the locals held the ceremonies from mosque-to-mosqus for a month or until the end of the month of Rabiul Awal.
After the zikir ceremony where words are said to praise the God, offerings comprising food items and fruits were distributed to the participants.As they enjoyed the offerings, they were also entertained by a group of youths performing the “Kasidah” music.
In an effort to seek blessings during the Grebeg Maulud, thousands of local Muslims also thronged the Salabose Mount in the Majene District, West Sulawesi Province, on Tuesday.
The culmination of the prophet’s birthday ceremony was held in the Salabose area because the spread of Islam in the province started from there. The ceremony ended after the participants finished contesting the gunungan offering of food.
The ceremony, which is a symbol of the the prophet’s birthday celebrations, is believed to bring blessings and good fortune.
West Sulawesi Deputy Governor Aladin S. Mengga hoped that the locals will preserve the tradition as a cultural bounty of the province.
The horse cart parade in Palu, Central Sulawesi, was the other unique celebration of the day. Several horse-drawn carts participated in the parade.
Arfan, an assistant to the administration secretary of the Palu regional government, stated that the horse carts were from 12 sub-districts in the Palu City.
Each sub-district sent one or two horse carts for the parade. The horse carts on parade were decorated with colorful pieces of cloth, carried different food items and decorated trees adorned with colorfully ornate eggs during the parade.
Several youngsters welcomed the parade with drum bands and recited the Holy Quran.
In the meantime, in Jakarta, thousands of people thronged the National Monument Square (Manas) where the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday was observed. The event was organized by the Majelis Rasulullah (The God Messenger Assembly). It was also attended by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
The event in Monas, which was led by Habib Ahmad Bin Jindan, resounded with zikir. Jindan also made sermons, reminding the people that all would be asked to account for their deeds on the Day of Judgment.
During his address, President Yudhoyono stated that the Prophet Muhammad was a great leader who led his people from darkness into a new era that was full of faith.
“We should be grateful to the Prophet, who has taught Islam, led us, and made a significant change that we call a transformation from darkness into a new era of light.” he remarked.