Despite its status as the 5th largest metropolitan city in Indonesia, founded in 1547, Semarang still preserves several customs to this day. Semarang also has the moniker Venetië van Java (meaning “Venesia from Java) because this city has many rivers scattered in the middle of the city, just like the City of Venice in Italy. Besides there are various interesting tourist attractions, Semarang also has a variety of unique traditions. So, what are the unique customs or traditions that are popular in the city? Find the answer below.
The city’s customs in Central Java are currently still being preserved, one of which is Dugderan. The month of Ramadan is the month that Muslims all over the world have been waiting for. Every place has its traditions or activities to welcome the month. One of them is the Dugderan tradition which is held in Semarang. Even this tradition has been carried out since 1881, since the colonial era. This folk festival is usually held in certain streets and is animated by a large selection of culinary, clothing, toys, including parades, drums, and fireworks.
Carnival is usually enlivened with a carnival, a procession of troops dressed in traditional clothes, drum bands, and other traditional arts. One of the things that characterize Dugderan is the Warak Ngendhog, a fictional creature that becomes the unification of cultures from various ethnicities in Semarang. Its body is a camel from Arabia, the head of a dragon from Chinese culture, and four goat legs from Javanese ethnic culture. Warak Ngendhog is the main concern of visitors who see it during the festival.
The Dugeran event always begins with the beating of a drum by local officials and continues with the lighting of the cannon. The sound of a drum dug dug dug and ended with a der der der cannon. This is what underlies the naming of this annual Semarang tradition.
According to Javanese culture, Padusan is a tradition of purifying oneself before the month of Ramadan so that the body and soul become “clean”. Padusan comes from the word adus in Javanese which means ‘bathing’. Generally, people flock to bathe together in the water spring. Not only before Ramadan but Padusan can also be held to welcome Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.
Siraman is a custom that is carried out when someone is about to get married. The bride and groom will be doused with water sourced from seven springs and given a sprinkling of special flowers. A rule requires an odd number of people in charge of watering it, for example, seven or nine people.
The next tradition in the city of Semarang that has been carried out from ancient times is Nyadran. Actually, not only in Semarang, people in other areas on the island of Java are still doing it. Nyadran is usually done before fasting begins, precisely in the month of Ruwah. Usually, they will make pilgrimages to family or ancestral graves and then clean the graves. Next, they will offer prayers for their deceased relatives and pray to God to make fasting worship run well.
Generally, Nyadran is done alone or with a large family. However, some areas still hold this tradition together with all residents of a hamlet or village. After the pilgrimage to the cemetery, the community would have a meal together. This moment of togetherness is also one of the goals of this ritual.
Nyadran itself is also one of the rituals in Semarang that is still maintained by the local community. Of course, this ritual itself is also a symbol that is quite iconic and able to represent the people of Semarang itself. Therefore, the next generation should maintain the culture that has existed since the time of their ancestors.
Before you plan a trip to Semarang, be sure to read more about Semarang and Indonesia by visiting Wonderful Indonesia.