Dressing Up Like a Buffalo, A Unique Tradition of Kebo-keboan from Banyuwangi

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Kebo, the non-standard language of buffalo, is the name of an animal that must be known to many people. However, is Parents Did you know that there is a tradition in Indonesia, specifically in Banyuwangi, called Kebo-keboan?

For a long time, the people of Alasmalang Village, Singojuruh District, Banyuwangi, East Java, have held the Kebo-keboan ceremony once a year. The tradition is usually carried out on Sundays between the 1st and 10th of the month of Sura.

Sunday was chosen because it is a day when all people are not working, while the reason for choosing Sura is because the Javanese believe that this month is a sacred month.

Source: Instagram @bwitoday

The purpose of the Kebo-keboan tradition is to show the gratitude of the Osing people for the harvest they receive. In addition, Kebo-keboan also functions as a village cleaning ceremony so that the community is protected from danger.

Because of the attractiveness of this traditional ceremony, Kebo-keboan has always been a spectacle for some people in East Java, even tourists from within and outside the country. Here are facts about the Kebo-keboan tradition that you may not have Parents know.

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5 Interesting Facts about the Kebo-keboan Tradition from Banyuwangi

1. Not Using a Real Buffalo

The name Kebo-keboan itself is taken from the local language which means an imitation or imitation buffalo. Why was this animal chosen as a symbol? Because buffalo are close to farmers’ activities in the fields and are considered “friends” by farmers in plowing the fields.


Source: Instagram @nilre.raharjo

Well, because the name is Kebo-keboan or an imitation buffalo, it means that what is included in this tradition is not a real buffalo, but a human who is dressed exactly like a buffalo. However, from the many participants, only the big ones will be chosen to play the buffalo.

They are all dressed to look like buffalo, complete with horns and bells around their necks. So, in order to make the skin color of the people who become buffalo resemble the skin of the original buffalo, their entire body is smeared with oil and charcoal to make it look black. In addition they will also behave like buffalo who are in the fields with farmers during the ceremony.

2. The Beginning of the Foolish Tradition due to the Plague

Told from various sources, ancient times there was a disease outbreak that attacked humans and plants in Alasmalang Village. It is not known exactly what the plague was. But so severe, the mysterious disease has made a number of residents starve and even die.

To ask for guidance and healing related to the plague, a village elder named Mbah Kanti then went to the hills to do meditation. It was from this meditation that Mbah Kanti got the idea that the residents of Alasmalang Village would carry out the traditional village salvation ritual.


Source: Instagram @dwphotography86

Specifically, Mbah Kanti’s wangsit stated that residents should hold a Kebo-keboan ritual and glorify Dewi Sri as a symbol of prosperity and safety. Miraculously, after the traditional ritual was carried out, the diseases that attacked the residents and the pests that attacked the residents’ crops in the fields immediately disappeared.

Since then, the Kebo-keboan tradition has been held every year. The people of Alasmalang Village believe that this ritual has been protecting them from the threat of human and plant diseases.

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3. Preparations are made a week before the ceremony

Because it is a big ceremony, the preparations before doing Kebo-keboan have even started a week before, starting with cleaning the hamlet environment and the houses of all the villagers.

The day before the Kebo-keboan tradition is carried out, mothers gather to prepare a number of offerings. Starting from tumpeng, kinang ayu, jug water, chicken ingkung, various jenang, and so on. In addition to the purpose of salvation, the offerings will also be placed at every corner of the intersection in Krajan Hamlet.

Unique, Human Dressed Up as a Buffalo in the Kebo-keboan Tradition

Source: Instagram @pindle.indonesia

In addition, the mothers also prepared ceremonial equipment such as hoe, pitung fresh rice, banana, head, rice plant seeds, singkal, pera, and the like.

In the evening before the ceremony, it was the turn of the village youths on duty. They prepare secondary crops, sugar cane, cassava, and others, which will be planted along the Dusun Krajan road. In addition, they also have to prepare a dam that functions to irrigate the newly planted plants.

4. Stages in the Kebo-keboan Tradition Ceremony

Starting at 08.00 WIB, the ceremony began with prayers and eating tumpeng together. The number of cones provided is 12 pieces, symbolizing the cycle of human life, 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night.

Unique, Human Dressed Up as a Buffalo in the Kebo-keboan Tradition

Source: Instagram @genpibanyuwangi

After that, the peak event is called ider earth. Kebo-keboan and the participants of the procession ceremony surround Krajan Hamlet. In the front row besides Kebo-keboan, there is also a woman who symbolizes Dewi Sri, who carries rice seeds. Behind him, he followed village elders, community leaders, hamlet officials, hadrah players, barong players, and hamlet residents.

Before heading to the final destination, namely the residents’ rice fields, all participants went to the dam first. They witnessed the sluice gate officers opening the dam and water flowing to irrigate the plants that the residents had planted along the hamlet road.

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5. Booing is also done in other villages

Apart from Alasmalang Village, the Kebo-keboan tradition was also carried out in other Banyuwangi areas, namely Aliyan Village, Rogojampi. Although the name is the same, but there are slight differences in the rituals they perform. Like this stage Kebo-keboa there.

Unique, Human Dressed Up as a Buffalo in the Kebo-keboan Tradition

Source: Instagram @visitbanyuwangi

  • First the preparatory stage, namely the installation of banners along village roads.
  • Second is the stage of making a puddle whose location is adjusted to the route of the buffalo-human procession. The puddle symbolizes a rice nursery that will produce grains of rice
  • Third namely to make mountains of crops. This mountain contains fruits and other crops, a symbol of prosperity
  • Fourthdoing the ider earth stage, which is parading the buffalo man to all corners of the village
  • Fifth or the closing stage is called ngurit, where a character plays the role of Dewi Sri giving rice seeds to the traditional leader. By the customary leader, the seeds are then given to the farmers to be planted.
Unique, Human Dressed Up as a Buffalo in the Kebo-keboan Tradition

Source: Instagram @visitbanyuwangi

Those were interesting facts about the Kebo-keboan ritual. If Parents If you have the opportunity to visit Banyuwangi or plan to travel there, maybe it can be adjusted to the time of the implementation of this tradition so that you can witness firsthand the unique Kebo-keboan ceremony.

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