Fatalism and Mysticism 2
Dotted around Jakartass Towers, on door and window lintels, are liitle packages generally wrapped in red paper with Chinese characters. Inside are what appear to dried herbs and roots. Every bag and drawer also a similar package inside; I've never removed the one in my briefcase.
Now I do know that they've been placed in these strategic positions by 'Er Indoors as a form of 'security blanket' for our affairs.
When Our Kid was still a toddler he'd regularly have a very high temperature and, to our dread, these would cause a paralytic seizure. Ibu Cillitan was there to help with her (Christian) prayers, a massage and little packages to ward off recurrences.
Ibu Cillitan is a very wise old woman who has long been a source of reassurance to us at times of trouble and strife.
We always come away from her kampung
, near Cililitan bus station in South Jakarta ~ hence my name for her, with some oleh-oleh
, those gifts of regional snacks which Indonesians give to friends and colleagues after a journey away from the metropolis. And more packages with Chinese characters are placed in strategic places in our house.
When in Jakarta, Ibu lives with her extended family in a modest house situated in an alley. I've never seen her with make up or 'dressed up'. She looks like everyone's grandmother and a housewife and, in essence, that is what she is.
We are not the only ones to avail ourselves of Ibu's help. There are always queues of supplicants, if that's the right word, although such is the bond between 'Er Indoors and Ibu that we always seem to the ones who are invited into the inner sanctum which is dominated by the latest megascreen TV.
There are no fees, but folk contribute according to their means and gratitude. We know that Ibu has a large house 'in Java' to which we've been invited but have yet to visit.
We also know that Ibu Tien Suharto consulted her. I don't know whether Suharto's wife ever went to the kampung
or whether Ibu went to the Presidential palace by 'royal appointment'. The point is, I suppose, that all levels of Indonesian society trust the powers of mere mortals.
And, to a certain extent, so does Jakartass because she has been on hand when I've suffered physical ailments such as a trapped nerve or a crocked knee. She has also given comfort, and little packages, when 'Er Indoors has consulted her about, for example, my occasional periods of underemployment. I presume that Ibu's powers are long-term because, apart from those physical ailments, she has never supplied a quick fix.
In Part 3 I will supply further anecdotes of how belief in non-religious powers are there to be witnessed by those of us with embedded lives here.
Meantimes, through, presumably, mutual telepathic powers, Yosef Ardi today offers further insights into the role of Javanese mysticism in the functioning of the Indonesian government.
Apparently, SBY has a "bad aura", so all the bad things he has had to deal with since he came to power, like the tsunami, earthquakes, floods, avian flu, bombings, plane crashes etc., are all to do with what he inherited right from his early life.
So today a Javanese cleric conducted the second cleaning up of the president's bad luck in a ritual called ruwatan.
Javanese rituals are so varied and distinctive. Amidst this ethnic diversity, one that is known by most people to eliminate the ill-fated destiny of someone's future is Ruwatan sukerta, or more simply Ruwatan. The word Ruwatan comes from word ruwat meaning free, the suffix -an changes the word into a noun, so Ruwatan means the action of making someone free or clean from dirt, unluckiness, impurity, and filth.
If you want to know more about this ritual, Yosef links us to a website which could well be of greater value than the efforts of SBY's own team's efforts to clean up his image.