Kebo-Keboan Watukebo, an Old and Unique Tradition from Banyuwangi

Kebo-Keboan is one of the traditional ceremonies in which farmers transform themselves into buffaloes in Banyuwangi. Kebo-Keboan is usually done at the beginning of the month of Suro, the Javanese calendar. The purpose of this traditional ceremony is to thank God Almighty for abundant harvests. As well as a prayer that the process of planting seeds will also produce an abundant harvest in the following year.

Indonesia runs on magic. In this country, it is nothing unusual for the relatives to offer a blessing of the deceased ancestors (temporarily in the bodies of kuda lumping dancers) as a present to newlyweds. Islamic morality is put aside when the ghost of a legendary prince promises infallible luck to those who dare sleep with a total stranger on his sacred mountain.

Apparently, even the main international airport, Soekarno Hatta in Jakarta, unofficially employs a weather shaman, pawang hujan, to keep monsoon rains off the runway. But one ritual is even more bizarre than most: Kebo-keboan ceremony near Banyuwangi in East Java. Spirit possession may be a pretty common thing around here, but the spirits involved are at least usually human. Not at Kebo-keboan – here, a dozen or so villagers get possessed by the souls of ancient buffaloes.

According to his story, once upon a time, a princess from Bali asked around 44 bulls (kebo) as a gift for her engagement by the king of Majapahit at that time. One of the bull was so lazy to walk and just sit over the street. There then, Tiki Siem as the shepherd curse the bull in to a stone (watu). There the name of the village was taken, Watukebo (Frozen bull).

On this occasion the local community will start the tradition by village March after the sunset followed by reciting some Quran and visiting some tombs of their ancestor, and the visit ehat they believe as the frozen bull stone. And ended by a traditional feast next to those places.

The mystical predicate of Banyuwangi region is a result of its society maintaining ancestral legacies. The Kebo-keboan ceremony is a Banyuwangi cultural legacy that remains replete with mystical elements in each of its component activities. The agricultural ceremony aims to tolak bala and express thanksgiving, mainly in its agriculture field at the time. This study aimed to uncover the intergenerational communication that occurs in preserving the tradition amidst a changing era characterized by new technologies.

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