Traditional Javanese thanksgiving ritual cancelled after attack by Islamic mob

Harian Jogja – October 13, 2018
Sedekah Laut traditional thanksgiving ritual (Harian Jogja)
Sedekah Laut traditional thanksgiving ritual (Harian Jogja)

Budaya Syirik, Bantul – A Sedekah Laut traditional thanksgiving ritual in the Central Java regency of Bantul, which was to be held on October 13, has been cancelled after a mob wearing Islamic turbans vandalised the venue.

The mob left a message which said that the traditional annual ritual is syirik [from the Arabic word shirk meaning the deification or worship of anyone or anything besides the one God Allah].

The incident occurred at midnight on Friday October 12 at Baru Beach in Poncosari village, Srandakan sub-district. In the end an arts performance was held instead of the traditional ritual of throwing offerings into the sea.

A Baru Beach fisherperson, 48-year-old Tuwuh, confirmed the incident. “This is the first time Sedekah Laut has been cancelled. Tents and the honorary platform had already been setup but there is no Sedekah Laut”, said Tuwuh on Saturday.

According to Tuwuh, the incident occurred at 23.30pm near the Baru Beach entrance gate next to the statue of a shark and tiger which have become an icon of the beach.

The mob of some 50 people arrived in around 20 vehicles, motorcycles and cars. They immediately destroyed the ceremonial gate, tables, and overturned chairs that had been neatly arranged for guests.

“Shouting Allah Akbar [God is Great], wearing turbans, they chopped everything up using sharp weapons they’d brought”, said Tuwuh.

After vandalising the venue, the perpetrators then put up a banner reading, “We reject all associations with Allah wrapped in the culture of Sedekah Laut and the like”.

Tuwuh himself claimed to have directly witnessed the incident but was too afraid to do anything.

As a result of the attack, several of the agenda high-points were also cancelled and a reog arts performance [a comic performance performed with dance and drums] held instead. Dishes of food were also handed out to local people.

It is not known if the Sedekah Laut ritual, also referred to as Bekti Pertiwi and Pisungsung Jaladri, is in fact syirik. The ritual is held annually and the 50 million rupiah in funds for the event comes from community donations.

“It had all be setup 15 days beforehand”, said Tuwuh.


Sedekah Laut Ngalangi – A traditional thanksgiving ritual in which villagers give offerings to show their gratitude for the abundant farm and fish harvest from the rich nature that surrounds them.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was Gerombolan Bercadar Bawa Sajam yang Rusak Properti Tradisi Sedekah Laut di Bantul Sebut.]