Dandelion

Achene’s a message
Sent to wish more joy and bliss.
Sad no more, dear earth.

Each day new day. It is equivalent with Javanese wisdom “mati sajroning urip” which literally means “dead within life”. It is a very deep wisdom teaching Javanese human beings to let the old self to transform to the new one. It is simply acknowledging that some problems are let go and self is moving on with better understanding about what life is truly is.

If life challenge is considered a seed, it will free the human being, fly away to fall on Mother Earth’s lap somewhere and be part of green woven blanket beautifying and cooling.

Life is just like that.

Salaam.

dandelion (Randa Tapak in Javanese)

Welcome, Month of Exercising (Javanese Muslim Tradition)

Regret and sorry
Not easy to feel and say,
Yet flushing the guilt.
Look! It’s rain water pouring
On the roof, sweeps away dirt.

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Ramadhan is starting tomorrow, it’s my 38th year in which I do full fasting. I’m so grateful with this achievement. Achievement? Yes! Imagine for one full month during the day we don’t drink, we don’t eat, we don’t smoke, we don’t sex, we don’t let out uncontrolled emotion, we simply hold whatever we normally let out easily with no delay. We are human beings though, we can do all those at night. Ahem!

As a Javanese Muslim welcoming Ramadhan is as special as the fasting itself. We welcome the Ramadhan with a small celebration called megengan which literally means holding (esp. the breath).

In megengan a Javanese family will deliver a basket of rice with dishes to neighbours and extended family members living separately. While each family can choose what they share, there is one must specialty in this occasional delivery so called “apem” in Javanese or “kue apam” in Bahasa Indonesia or Malay.

Apem is steamed cake whose ingredients are rice flour, coconut milk, coconut water, yeast, sago starch and some sugar.

The word apem is derived from the word “afwun” (an Arabic word) meaning apology. Why apology? In Ramadhan when a Muslim is fasting, s/he is not only holding her/himself from hunger, thirst, lust, uncontrolled anger, and exercising her/his integrity; but s/he is also recommended to contemplate her/his own “action records” for the past one year. It is not easy for one to bear the guilt during the contemplation, so it is recommended for a Muslim before Ramadhan to apologise to their family and friends or to whomever s/he did wrongdoing, to ease the contemplation process. As it might not be easy to say sorry through a naked word, Javanese Muslim will include a symbolic apology in the food called apem when they deliver the whole food package. Everyone knows what it is, what it does— it is up to each person whether or not to accept the apology. And there they go starting the fasting month with a light heart to physically, mentally and spiritually exercise her/himself for one full month.

I used to think that that celebration was a waste of food. For one week I used to see sooooo many plastic and bamboo baskets piled up in our dining table and shelves — all those megengan packages which would be eaten just a bit and end up given to our chickens at the back yard. Fyi, the apem is never wasted though as every family has different taste and ways of how to make their best apem – maybe it’s a symbol that everyone is taking the apology seriously. I used to say to my mom that megengan was more about chickens celebrating than human beings celebrating. However after I understand what is symbolised through those simple deliveries, I highly appreciate the way we Javanese hold the integrity through our humble tradition.

I used to tell my mother to not do it, but now I’ve always been a reminder to her to not forget doing it and done it myself although I’m living around those not familiar with this tradition. I normally cook some simple food for the cleaning ladies and the gardeners who are assigned in the block two days before Ramadhan. Unfortunately minus the apem, simply because I am not confident enough to make my own apem. Tried this year though and failed 🙃

I promise to myself that this year is gonna be a good Ramadhan.

Welcome, month of holding, month of exercising integrity. It might not be always easy but doable.

I’m sending out apology to all the people having felt hurt by me. I’m sorry with my heart and soul in naked words. 🙏🏼

May all beings be happy.

my private megengan in 2022 minus rice, the white one is my own first apem in life – taste good but imperfect texture 🥰

Life Should Be

Blissful, Beloved,
Joyful, gleeful— life should be.
Save the right window.

————————————————————-

‘m praying that I’ll be saved from any danger and threats from any creature. Amen…

Nagasari or Nogosari is rice cake filled with ripe banana, one “snack” included in Javanese praying ceremony. This food symbolises prayer to God for safety and security from any danger and threats from any creature; and so a Javanese’s life can be blissful, joyful and gleeful.

Always sit next to the right window, dear Self. 💝

prayer of safety and security in a piece of ramekin 🥰
modern Nagasari, should be wrapped in banana leaf but today it was steamed in a 💝 instead

Soft Heart, Possible?

Fire melts metal,
Taming its hard side of life.
A shout to soft heart—

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Hardship in life train two muscles: physical body and mental body.

The harder the exercises, the harder and tougher the physical body is. Punches will only hit hard strong muscle and a hit back can even beat the attacker.

In fact the harder life tests a human being with challenges, the softer one’s heart could be. Soft heart isn’t a sign of weakness, it is kindness or even wisdom. And wisdom is the purest strength.

A Javanese wisdom reflects how a soft heart can build someone’s attitude and behaviour: sugih tanpa bandha, digdaya tanpa aji, ngluruk tanpa bala, menang tanpa ngasorake.

Sugih tanpa bandha: Someone can feel rich without money or property. She can own treasure, wealth, fortune more precious than what money can buy. The true richness is a soft heart that can contain a lot of opportunity to learn lessons and preserve the heritage of life wisdom of being a human. Only soft heart can do that.

Digdaya tanpa aji: Someone can be powerful without physical strength. Only clear mind and soft heart can shape her to a powerful individual through whom solutions and ways out are channeled. Don’t ever worry, Beloved that having a good heart is in vain. At the end it is soft heart who drives good mind and it is also soft heart who invites true appreciation and respect.

Ngluruk tanpa bala: fighting without ally sometimes happens in life. Or always? Yes, when she fights against her own imbalanced judgement or inharmonious thinking, that’s when she doesn’t have ally. She is alone. No one can help her. She needs her own self and her alone. It is soft heart her sole ally to win every battle inside.

Menang tanpa ngasorake: winning without defeating or humiliating others. What do we need but victory? Yet victory isn’t always about winning against others in arguments or race. Victory is at the end about learning what weakness lies beneath a failure to appreciate and respect a relationship of any form: blood ties, friendship, romance, etc. And only soft heart can calm her down from intensity of defeating or humiliating others. The softer her heart, the better others feel about themselves. As a result those who are not feeling belittled will make space; and only soft heart will be given space without second thought.

Unfortunately it is applicable only in relationships without money as the basis. Sad? No. I can apply it happily outside business arena, a space which is broader and deeper than it looks. Step by step…. 💝

Salaam…

a soft heart, as soft as moist marble cake 🥰

7

Numbers, Beloved,
Tell you what life has brought in.
Blissful happiness—

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7 or pitu in Javanese is an abbreviation of pitulungan that means help, aid, assistance, support in any form in a situation when a Javanese feels helpless and hopeless.

In life I believe whatever enjoyed whether it’s a tiny achievement or accessibility have always been in 3 forms of pitulungan: from my ally, my enemy or from the invisible.

It’s my ally for sure. They will never let me down because when I lose, they will lose as much as or even worse than I do. We’ll work together to achieve our common goals. My family, my friends, my colleagues.

The enemy? Believe it or not, I’ve won a lot of battles with the help from enemy. Unfortunately they never realise that the harm they caused have been the best fuel for me to boost myself to achieve what they’ve never thought would happen with their bad influence and/or actions. My enemy think their strikes against me will ruin me. Oh never, my dear. You throw me bricks, I build a castle!

And the invisible is a never-ending support I’ve received since I was a baby. I was born difficult my mother said. I got sick when I was a girl. I grew in an environment where popularity was the most appreciated; if you were ordinary (although with high quality of quotients), you would not be appreciated. I grew up humble and naive and knew nothing about (dirty) competition. If I’m not protected by the invisible, I would have lost every battle against opportunists and deceivers.

I’m so lucky to be surrounded by 7, pitu-pitulungan, a number the Javanese sacredly celebrate. And the three layers of 7? Definitely mine!

Thanks, 7. You’re not the 7 sins or evil other people consider. You’re not the 7 of bad luck on crap tables.

You’re a 3-layer 7 sent by the Life to protect me forever.

May all beings be happy.

7 feathers

Pranata Mangsa (Javanese Wisdom)

August, Beloved
Earth is thirsty and open.
Second crop should come.

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Pranata mangsa literally means season (mangsa) rules (pranata). It is a structured rules for farmers and fishermen in Javanese culture with which they make their plans in growing plants and harvesting the sea. This comprehension was also implemented in Sundanese (major ethnic group in West Java) and Balinese (major ethnic group in Bali). Some European ethnic groups did have this, too like Bauern calendar in Germany.

There are 12 mangsa (seasonal cycles) in Javanese pranata mangsa.

  1. Kasa (Kartika) – Jun. 22 to Aug. 1 
  2. Karo (Poso) – Aug. 2-24
  3. Katelu – Aug. 25 to Sep. 17
  4. Kapat (Sitra) – Sep. 18 to Oct. 12
  5. Kalima (Manggala) – Oct. 13 to Nov. 8
  6. Kanem (Naya) – Nov. 9 to Dec. 21
  7. Kapitu (Palguna) – Dec. 22 to Feb. 2 
  8. Kawolu (Wasika) – Feb. 3-28
  9. Kasanga (Jita) – Mar. 1-25
  10. Kasadasa (Srawana) – Mar. 26 to Apr. 18
  11. Dhesta (Pradawana) – Apr. 19 to May 11
  12. Sadha (Asuji) – May 12 to Jun. 21

The dates are adjusted every four years due to the 365 and 366 days in a year (leap year).

Javanese would grow certain seeds in each mangsa because in those particular mangsa the earth metabolism have specifically different characteristics suit certain plants to grow; and so, growing them will both maximise the crops and mitigate hazards to the soil.

And the Javanese fishermen would go to sea on certain mangsa and wouldn’t in the others or if they went, they knew which directions they would go as in certain parts of sea is in rage or the sea habitat isn’t ready to present crops to the men. Combined with the ethnoastronomy, the pranata mangsa was a powerful tool for Javanese fishermen in their golden era. No more though 🥴

Pranata mangsa was developed to ensure the health, safety and welfare of both the human beings and the environment. That’s confirmed and proven for ages!

However, this powerful pranata mangsa has been left if not forgotten by the owner. Instead the owner has started using the modern no-season farming and fishery where earth is raped and tortured to cater for the human being greed. The Javanese have betrayed both their own identity and the environment by leaving the pranata mangsa.

Do we really need so much? Or do we want so much?

Maybe it has come to a time to apologise to the earth goddess (called Batari Sri in Javanese, the one given authority by God to take care of soil) and the ocean god (called Batara Baruna in Javanese, the one given authority to take care of water)— they might have screamed for so long because of us, we who don’t care of the risks of harmful fertilisers and irresponsible sea harvesting both to us and to the earth.

Maybe it has come to a time to start healing them that are almost broken and exploding, and healing ourselves for having been greedy and selfish.

Salam….

Useful link #1: https://www.salamyogyakarta.com/pranoto-mongso/

Useful link #2: https://fpb.uksw.edu/detail_post/news/masih-relevankah-pranata-mangsa-di-era-globalisasi-ini

Does Too Much Love Kill?

Too much love will kill
Who? None. Love will overflow,
Reviving the death.

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Finally an agreement was achieved among some friends to start a project to support a few batik makers that we know and to spread knowledge about batik from unique perspectives. There will be video about batik, the batik artisan’s life and thin slices of Javanese wisdom. And so I have to restart the old hobby that has been dormant for how long only heaven knows.

Can’t wait to travel to dear home-base-will-be and produce slides and shows….

Hope it works well.

Friendship nurtures human beings in many ways possible.

good, the tripod still stands still 👍🏽

Urip Iku Sawang-Sinawang – Javanese Wisdom

Urip iku sawang-sinawang is another Javanese wisdom that I’ve learnt. It simply means life is looking at each other, looking at something.

When feeling unfortunate, many will see others as luckier than them. Comparison is an immediate expression to show their frustration. Why are those people getting that but I’m not? Why does life give the blessings to them but not to me? Why are they married but I’m not? Why do they have good jobs but I don’t? Blahblahblah!

Let’s call them “these angry children”. When these angry children happen to consult to Javanese elderly, they will softly say “Ngger, urip kuwi mung sawang-sinawang….”

“Ngger” is equivalent with “My child”.

Many can only see what they are exposed to. Others have better job while these angry children don’t; and that makes these children angrier. They think that having particular jobs will make those people happier.

People are married and being married is considered happier and that makes these angry children sad or even angrier.

People travel to many places and these angry children think they are luckier; and that makes these children envy.

Some colleagues are able to deliver the speech better than these angry children and they think the colleagues perform better; and that makes these angry children feel as worst employees.

Are all those truly as these angry children think? No. Or at least not always. Or let’s say not exactly like what you expect. Or maybe not at all!

They have good jobs but they might have a lot of pressure or feel less appreciated. Whereas having (what you consider) less fortunate jobs is blessings for becoming less risky against integrity issues and less pressure.

They are married and these angry children never know what kind of spouse those people have. These children should be thankful for not being in a marriage this time and see that those married people are struggling financially or romantically or sexually or spiritually or socially or all…. Whereas the unmarried are free to be their own selves and getting more training from Life to be better and readier human beings.

People travel to many different countries while these angry children can only jump out to other districts in their  province. These angry children think that makes those people better human beings. Yes, they have more photo albums and memories of what they have seen and more information; but they don’t automatically become wiser than whoever mostly stay home but are able to process the life experiences into true wisdom to address this humble life.

And colleagues speaking more sophisticatedly? Bloody hell! Those who talk talk, but not always walk the talk. What’s more important is how what aren’t even spoken or talked have helped people around them.

So, life is only how we are looking at each other, looking at something. We can look at them and get offended. We can look at them and digest what we see into a wisdom to be better living being without judging ourselves of being bad or unlucky.

That’s a simple Javanese philosophy that might be also taught in other cultures.

Accept who we are and process our own facts to mould the shape of love in us. Others are not always our mirror, they might be magnifying glass.

In fact, all of us deserve to be these angry children while growing to be the wise.

Thanks for the simple chats with some good friends and my own self.

This picture of children with heart-shaped glasses is borrowed from https://www.freepik.com

2020 and 2021

Language is alive
Even in silence. I guess
It’s ears who discount.
I don’t escape, Beloved.
Just my confidence collapsed....

Space is not distance,
It’s a knot between two hearts.
Imagine two words
Without space: cramped and crowded.
Just never disconnect, Love.

Year end is ready
To summarise lessons learnt
To hand happiness
Over to new one. Welcome,
Self, to realm of connection....

Singapore – Dec. 30, 2020 / 00:10