Keduk Beji or clean the pool (sendang) traditional ceremony is held by the residents of Tawun Village, Kasreman District, Ngawi Regency, East Java Province. Keduk Beji in the Indonesian language means to drain or clean the pond, which is the source of water for the villagers of Tawun and its surroundings from leaves and other impurities. Keduk Beji is also a form of village cleansing ceremony held every Seloso Kliwon Ringkel Uku lan Godong on the Javanese calendar.
This ancestral tradition continues to this day, as a form of commemoration of the disappearance of Raden Ludrojoyo who was lost during Tapa Kungkum (bathing) at Sendang Tawun. This traditional ceremony, usually held every ahead of the month of Sura (first month) based on the calculation of the Islamic Javanese calendar.
This tradition has long been carried out to commemorate Raden Ludrojoyo who dared to sacrifice his body and soul by asceticism, begging the power to revive the spring in this village.
According to legend, this water source not only came just like that, but from asking God through a special penance. At that time of drought, there was no source of water. Then, there was this water source coming from God.
The spring water of Tawun appeared after going through the penance by the descendants of Ki Ageng Metawun and Nyai Ageng Ketawang, namely Eyang Ludrojoyo. It was told in the old time that Eyang Ludrojoyo prayed to God so that the village had a water source and so that it could help the lives of local residents.
It is said that, right on Tuesday Kliwon, at exactly 00.00, a loud explosion, accompanied by the release of water from the place where Ludrojoyo was imprisoned, appeared as a water source. Since then, the Keduk Beji’s commemoration was carried out to clean the Tawun spring.
This sacred ceremony, begins with dredging or cleaning the spring (pool) from dirt. Uniquely, it should only be done by men, by taking all the dirt in there by hitting each other using a stick accompanied by a drum beat. Beating each other or the term used here is kecetan which philosophically means legowo or relieved, may not hold grudges with each other. They dance too, at this cleaning time.
Then the ceremony continued with the dance performance of Galih Nogo Seno, then penyileman (diving to central water source, to replace the jug made by Ludrojoyo descendants). The conditions must be male and ready to nyilem. Because, not all his descendants are ready.
After nyilem, the ceremony continues by pouring legen (water from Siwalan fruit) into the water source. Then cross offerings from east to west water sources, in the form of Kendit Goat meat. The goat must be there no matter what happens.
The procession was closed with selametan (feast) and eating meals (food) in the form of male and female tumpeng (mountain-like offering from yellow rice) provided by residents who are believed to be able to get blessings. Food for selametan is provided by residents whose ancestors were buried in this Tawun area.
This traditional ceremony will continue to be developed because of its extraordinary potential. This is not only to preserve culture but also to develop tourism potential in Ngawi. The tourism sector is able to be a source of economic and community empowerment. Keduk Beji will be developed more, becoming a source of tourism and economy.
In the future this tradition will be developed and preserved, even formally patented. Keduk Beji became one of the tourism icons in Ngawi Regency, which will be legally patented. Keduk Beji will be presented in Jakarta in the near future, so it cannot be claimed by other regions. This annual eventis able to seize the attention of the community that are not only from nearby area but also outside the region. It is seen by the crowd of spectators exactly from when the procession begins to when it ends.
Surabaya, 10 February 2020