Almost every year since i was little, I’d go to visit my grandfather and my grandmother’s grave. In our culture, this is called nyekar, literally putting the flowers, some people also even include incense, on the graves of the ancestors. Sometimes, we do nyekar when we want to ask for blessing of the heavy duty and responsibility to the ancestors, but mostly, traditionally this is done before Ramadan. I personally do not know why do people start doing nyekar before Ramadan, but as I remember, there is a tradition of Ruwahan.
Ruwahan is carried out starting in the middle of Ruwah month, the 8th month in the Javanese Calendar, or concurrently with the Sya’ban in the Hijri Calendar. During Ruwahan, there are usually obligatory foods such as kolak, kue apem, and ketan. There to be said that each food has its meaning. Kolak will remind us the existence of our God, the creator of us. Apem will remind us to always ask forgiveness and the last, ketan, remind us about the cleanness of the heart and we need to close with our fellow human being.
Nyekar is a part of Ruwahan tradition. In recent years, as people have become more and more modern, many no longer see the value of nyekar. After all, why do we need to spend more money to visit grave outside the city, moreover, why would you spend money for the dead?
However, I’d like to argue about this matter at once, nyekar is just invaluable, probably losing it would be disastrous. I think when we celebrate the dead, we are celebrating the living. In Javanese culture, praying for the late parents, grandparents, and the ancestors is a form of respect. While cleaning the tomb is a form of attention, as well as an evidence that the late ancestors will never be forgotten. Beside, every year when I visit the graves, I am always faced with the question of life. I, too, will be buried in the ground, wishing and hoping that one day at the future after my dead, even to my grand children, will keep praying for me even tho at the time I will be but a name with a single picture.
In these past weeks, I’ve been writing many times about the dead, about my late grandfather, my late late grandfather, and so on. By this writing, I wonder that perhaps living is about refusing to forget.
Photo by Meriç Dağlı on Unsplash
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