Javanese culture is rich with symbolism. Javanese love to give meaning to a seemingly mundane object, as everything has its own role in this universe. In term of foods, there are several Javanese Lebaran foods that are filled with deep meanings and philosophy.
Just like most of the places in western Indonesia, Java’s staple food is rice. That can especially be seen during Lebaran when you can find lots of food that uses rice as the main ingredients. Here are some of the seemingly simple Javanese Lebaran foods with deep meanings.
Also known as ketupat, kupat is supposedly the abbreviation of ‘ngaku lepat’, meaning admitting the mistake. Since Lebaran in Indonesia is the time to get even with everyone by apologizing and forgiving, the first step a person must do is admitting his mistake. Javanese believe that we can make a mistake without even knowing that we do so. Thus, admitting that you might have made a mistake is very important.
It is the abbreviation of ‘disiliep sing rapet’, literally means bury it deep. After taking responsibilities of your mistake, you then have to bury that mistake deep. In other words, you have to never let yourself do a similar mistake in the future. To people who are wronged, this also means that after forgiving a person, we must restrain ourselves from bringing it up again in conversations.
This is a rice cake like kupat but the wrapper is banana leaves instead of coconut leaves. Lontong is short of ‘olo-olone dadii kothong’, meaning all the bad things become empty. After you apologize to or forgive all mistakes, you should consider yourself as an empty vessel, free from any past mistake. Hopefully, all your sins will be forgiven too by God. This is in line with the spirit of Lebaran when people return to their innocent self.
The coconut milk, santen is the abbreviation of ‘sing salah nyuwun ngapunten’. It means whoever does wrong has to apologize. It’s a simple instruction but sometimes very hard to do. By apologizing, everyone can bury the hatchet with no hard feeling left. Santen itself is used widely during Lebaran to make dishes like opor ayam, gulai, or lemang.
Made form sticky rice with shredded meat as filling, lemper is a very delicious cake. Lemper is short for ‘yen dielem ojo memper’, meaning don’t get carried away with compliments you receive. This teaches us to always be humble. It is relevant and important as many people nowadays shop beyond their means to impress people during Lebaran.
Javanese imbue a lot of meanings in everything they do or make. That is how they get close to their creator, through their own philosophy. From simple Javanese Lebaran foods with deep meanings, you can learn a lot about how to live your life well.