By Lulu Nurmalitasari
Once a year in the lunar month of Sapar, the communities of Ambarketawang village in the west side of Yogyakarta hold a ritual of Bekakak offering to appease the evil demons of Mt. Gamping. The ritual consists of preparing a life size wedding couple (Bekakak) made of rice flour dough and palm sugar, dressing them up in Javanese wedding dress and parade the effigy around the village before slaughtering it as a sacrifice for the evil demons.
The story has it that when the Javanese king Sultan Hamengkubuwono the 1st resided in the old palace located in the area of Mt. Gamping, he had a pair of devoted servants named Ki(Mr.) and Nyi (Mrs.) Wirosuto. When the Royal Palace moved to the current location in Yogyakarta city center, Ki and Nyi Wirosuto offered to stay behind in the old resident to take care of it. One day, the couple got killed by a landslide from Mt. Gamping. Since then, a landslide came every year until the people started to make an offering to the demons believed to have lived there. Since then the ritual was held every year to avoid the threat of the demons.
The ritual usually takes place in the afternoon at 14:00 local time. After a pre-wedding celebration (midodareni) on Thursday evening the night before, the effigies are paraded around the village. Little children with red painted bodies lead in front of the procession as little demons dancing along the way.
The Bekakak is carried in a carrier followed by Banaspati ( a ball of fire) to protect them. The procession ends at the Gung Cave where the Bekakak is slaughtered as an offering to appease the evil spirit so that the village people will be protected from harm.