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Unique Easter Traditions in Indonesia


Easter weekend is just around the corner. Indonesia has a significant Catholic and Christian population that commemorate the holy season with special tradition. Although having the same core of faith to the Holy Bible and the belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after his crucifixion, each province welcomes this special day with varying customs and rituals.

In main cities such as Jakarta, Surabaya and Manado, Easter have embraced more internationally known festivities. After a church service, followed by feasting in gratitude with family and friends, and then fun times revolving around the Easter Bunny and Easter Egg games. Painting eggs in bright colors or participate in hunting them are what children usually looking forward to do in this holiday.

If you are looking to find a unique tradition around the Easter time, here are the places you need to visit:


1 | Procession of the Crucifixion in Central Java

Unique Easter Traditions in Indonesia
Image source: www.antarafoto.com

The solemn ritual depicts a reenactment of Jesus Christ crucifixion in Golgotha. Hundreds of devotees will gather and march uphill for about 3 kilometer at Gunung Gandul, while chanting on prayers, immersed in this spiritual journey. Located 5 km north side of Wonogiri, Central Java, and this place is known to be crowded during Easter time.

Walking on steep routes, behind a person carrying the role of Jesus Christ while bearing a wooden crucifix, are meant as a reminder of how Jesus sacrifice himself to redeem mankind from their sins.


2 | Visiting the Sendangsono Cave in Yogyakarta

Unique Easter Traditions in Indonesia
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Being one of the most famous pilgrimage sites in Java, The Cave of Holy Mary Sendangsono is always busy welcoming those who yearns for a spiritual enlightenment. The word "sendang" means "spring water", while "sono" derived from the trees growing above the spring. Tirta Wening Banyu Penguripan, is the name of the spring, and its water are considered sacred by Christian devotees.
The spring water was used by Romo Van Lith to baptize 173 local resident of Kalibawang in 1904.

The cave is located in Kulon Progo, just 45 minutes away from downtown Yogyakarta. It will be adorned with hundreds of candles and flowers coming from devotees from all over the world. Romo YB Mangunwijaya, a prominent figure of Indonesian architecture designed the complex with contours, space layout and details that weaved nature with religious experience. In 1991, Sendangsono won the prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture, and until today, it is still famous for being the Lourdes of Indonesia.


3 | Memento Mori in Central Kalimantan

Unique Easter Traditions in Indonesia
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The ritual of Memento Mori is celebrated by the Christian communities in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan. Memento Mori is Latin for 'remember you will die' and it is believed that it was introduced in the 19th century, during the Dutch colonial era as a reminder of a transient life on Earth.

This ritual is carried out on Holy Saturday and involves the congregation of family members at the burial sites of loved ones. The families will light candles and arrange flowers on the grave sites and gather throughout the night until dawn. At the break of dawn on Easter Sunday, a tent will be provided by the local church for pilgrims to continue their Easter celebrations and worship.


4 | Kure in East Nusa Tenggara

Unique Easter Traditions in Indonesia
Image source: kuka.co.id

Kure is an Easter tradition celebrated by community of Kote in the town of Noemuti, North Central Timor, Nusa Tenggara Timur. On Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, Catholics will walk as pilgrims from one house to another to pray together and reflect on the Passion of Jesus Christ.

The word Kure is derived from the Latin word 'currere' which means to run or to walk. Parishioners say that the tradition is a legacy of Portuguese missionaries who introduced it in 1642.

The ritual commences with the cleaning of crucifixes and statues of Jesus Christ and Mother Mary and ends with the offerings of money, fruits, vegetables and palm dedicated to God. These offerings are later distributed to the pilgrims, prayer groups and other attendees of the ritual.


5 | Semana Santa in East Flores

Unique Easter Traditions in Indonesia
Image source: www.mediantt.com

This ritual is a special celebration in the town of Larantuka, East Flores. The local community celebrates Semana Santa, or otherwise known as Holy Week. This four day ritual commences with Rabu Trewa (Ash Wednesday) where congregations gather in chapels to pray and remember the betrayal of Jesus Christ by Judas Iscariot. This also is a time where congregants mourn and reflect in order to purify their soul, therefore transforming the town into a Town of Mourning.

On Maundy Thursday, congregations participate in the Tikam Turo ritual where the following day's 7km procession is prepared by placing candles along the road. Another ritual on this day takes place in the chapel of Tuan Ma (the Virgin Mary), where the statue of the Virgin Mary will be bathed and dressed in a piece of black, purple or blue velvet cloth to signify mourning.

The ritual reaches a peak on Good Friday or Sesta Vera which is the day of crucifixion. The highlight of Sesta Vera is when the statue of Jesus Christ is carried and placed at the center of the ritual beside the statue of Mother Mary (Mater Dolorosa - the mourning mother).

The following Sabtu Santo (Holy Saturday) and Easter Sunday (the day of Resurrection), mark the end of the Holy Week.

You can get to Larantuka, by taking a flight from major cities like Jakarta, Bali and Surabaya.


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