Tatung, Unique Tradition From West Kalimantan

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Tatung Tradition in West Kalimantan
Image taken from suarapemredkalbar.com

Every year before the Cap Go Meh celebration. West Kalimantan people, especially those who live in Singkawang Region will hold a parade called Tatung.

Tatung itself is a term for those who perform attractions in this parade. The attraction I meant was when they stabbed sharp weapons into their body parts during the parade.

Wait a minute, did you just read the words “stabbed their body parts with sharp weapons”? Yes, you read it clearly. They did that throughout the parade.

What exactly is Tatung?

Tatung is a human figure that according to some beliefs is being possessed by a spirit of god. The word ‘tatung’ itself is came from the Hakka language, which means the spirit of a god.

Basically, Tatung originated from one of the Chinese cultures that brought to Indonesia and then mixed with the local culture.

Tatung procession begins with the ritual of fasting from meat (vegetarian) food. Fasting periods is on the 1st and 15th of every month on the Chinese calendar. It said that if someone who inherits Tatung still eats meat on those date. They will experience failure once they get on the show and get harm like bleeding for example. In addition to fasting, another requirement is that the performer must have a clean heart and soul.

After the fasting period, in the morning on the Cap Go Meh Day they will perform special worship in their respective places.

From that place, they will be taken to the ‘Cap Go Meh’ Stage with their bodies pierced by sharp weapons. As long as the person becomes Tatung he must be accompanied by his mediator. The function of the mediator is to communicate with the spirit that possesses it.


Images are taken from Shutterstock

The God’s Spirits in Tatung can come and go whenever they wants during the parade. Usually, Tatung performers will know immediately if their gods want to come out so they had to get down from the sword-stretcher they were sitting on.

Interested in watching Tatung marches live? Come and visit West Kalimantan before the Cap Go Meh celebration, precisely in Singkawang City. And be a part of the lively Tatung parade in this city.

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