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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Cembengan Party

Ceng Beng. The Chinese culture,it is their habit to commemorate and honor their late ancestors’ souls. It is similar with Islamic grave pilgrimage. The Javanese calls it by Sadranan. Just like their elder brother, Chinese; they give their ancestors’ soul a gift, usually what they like when they were still alive, food-drink, and sometimes money if needed be. But I won’t tell about that instead I’d like to share with you all about cembengan.

...this cembengan is the most wanted moment ever to thepoors...
Cembengan naturally came from Chinese’s ceng beng habit, but I don’t know why the Javanese follow that habit and turn it to be some event similar with night festival. It usually held in the sugar plantation districts like Tasikmadu, Colomadu, Kertosono, Pemalang, Klaten and Surakarta, so when the sugarcane was about to be harvested, it means the sugar factory was about to commence their production cycle either. This moment was the most welcome one by peoples surrounding. They are very much excited knowing that this night festival --or widely known as cembeng-- soon will be held in a week full.

Older-younger, adult-children, west-east, Dutch-Chinese-Javanese, all attend to one party of first cycle production of this sugar factory. There is Tong setan (Devil Motor rider in a tong), and what the hell is that? The captured devil in Tong ( big wooden bucket) and be shown to visitors or what ? NOPE ! Tong Setan is a giant wooden bucket and there are two or more motorcycles and bikers inside. They race each other without any crash at all! This show was scary me to death when I was a child! Even when I hear its sound, it was similar with The Angry Zeus kicking his son butt, Hercules, vavoom !

And now let’s go to the next playground, komedi puter (carrousel), komedi is Comedy, puter is centrifugal moves, so komedi puter is similar with the centrifugal comedy show! I don’t know when or where the term came from. A bunch of animal -models going around without any directions and moved by some men's hands, of course --we as a child-- came to enjoy and have those euphorias while we were imagine ourselves as the prince charming from Rome Kingdom who were going to crash the Gallia Kingdom into pieces ! Prok !
"Catch, move along hey you horses, do not give your mercy to those Galion bastards....!!"
I guarantee that this playground is the most wanted by the children or their parents.

Tasikmadu Sugar plant*....

After enjoy the Komedi puter we had better think about our stomach right ? Well,if so, you can choose the jenang kudus*,the black colored rice-pasta with coconut within, or the motorbike-formed brondong beras*.....but let me advise you do not ever forget to eat the spicy and hot soto daging* and a glass of ice jasmine-tea...hmm delicious !

After we eat, as we were still children, take the gifts, and do you have any ideas ? Toys ! The water pistol was my idol, then yoyo, gasing and then the trucks, bus, car miniatures. It was as if the chicken starring at the corn ! seek and destroy....

This cembengan was held surround the sugar factory area, it was very wide and so many trembessi trees in my district, Tasikmadu. Moreover, when we want to go to the cembengan we must walk along the spoor-trail way instead of riding the trucks or public transportation. We wanted to have a little cost-cutting program, we had better spend the money for gifts than for transportation cost, yes, the water pistol and its companies.

We walked together with so many ‘cembengan-pilgrimage’. We just walk trough the railway. It was quite simple to do as the railway was headed to the sugar factory of Tasikmadu. We didn’t have a fear feeling,as thousand peoples would do the same. It was just like the Tawaf phase of Hajj pilgrimage. Everyone wore his or her best clothes,just like the lebaran day*. Averagely we wear our Lebaran clothes once or twice a year only.

It was such a bless if we got the wealthy neighbor as they must have a car, we can hitchhike to the cembengan site and gave them a little tips only. It was faster then the ‘tawaf pilgrimage’. Well, that was the once a year amusement to the poor. We could forget our hard-life for a while. Every social group has their own way to release the stress. I am the lucky one as I experience that great cembengan, but it’s too bad the Tasikmadu sugar plant is broken now, therefore no cembengan party anymore….

Everyday is a cembengan for me....

*Jenang kudus : A traditional snack made from rice powder with coconut and coconut-sugar. Made in Kudus,a rural city of central Java.
*Brondong beras : another traditional snack, made by rice as well but it fries without any cooking oil.
*soto daging : a kind of Chinese meat soup. Very popular in Indonesia.
*Lebaran day : The idul fitri day, the Islamic day to comemmorate the end of Ramadhan fasting month. It is the biggest holiday in Indoensia.

*picture courtesy of

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