Author: Retno Kusumo Editor: Herlina Sitorus Illustrator: Gilang Permadi Translator: Maharani Aulia Proofreader: Dameria Damayanti Origin: East Java

There was nothing to fear by people in Kadiri but the King. They lived wealthyly, with abundant harvest and livestocks. However, they were unhappy.

The King was arrogant and tyrannous. He was so conceited that he demanded his people to make him into a God.

“I am the one to worship. I deserve. I am the God!” he shouted loudly.

And, as usual, when there was a rule, there was also a punishment set by the King to anyone who broke the rule. Poor Kadirians. They had to obey the King, even if deep down they opposed him.

Since then, the gave all kind of services to the King. People did not pray to the real gods anymore. They also did not offer flowers or food anymore. The statues of gods in the temple and shrine were all torn down and replaced with the statue of the King.

The real gods consequently were infuriated.

“Why don’t those people pray to us any longer?” growled God Shiva.

“They’ve already had a new god. Their king made himself into a god and demand them to pray to him,” answered God Brahma.

“How dare him!” shouted God Shiva, “what is his special quality? Can he blow the wind and drive the boats to the ocean? Can he rise and set the sun?”

The real gods was so angry that they decided to give lessons to the King and his people. They made the sun shone longer than usual and made the weather very hot above Kadiri. They blew the cloud far away from the region so the rain would not fall. Dry season lasted for a year long. All plants and animals died from extreme drought. Kadirians managed to survive with food supply in their barn. And the supply eventually got exhausted. Things got worsen when famine followed by many kinds of diseases that took its toll on Karidians’ life rapidly.

The district head of Purwokerto1 had great concern for his people. He assumed that the condition was caused by people’s neglegance in praising the real gods. He decided to live as an ascetic. He did tapa pepe2 to ask the gods’ forgiveness.

For days, he exposed himself to the sun. He sweat profusely. He got sunburn too. But he was determined to do that for the sake of the people. He did not want to stop even a minute. Some saw what he did and they followed him to do the same. They all did tapa pepe.

One day the district head heard a low voice from above. “People committed a sin because of their arrogance. They thought to be the strongest and the richest. It was a big mistake to pray to a person. You should expiate by whipping yourself with palm leaf ribs. And you will be delivered from evil.”

The district head got up and told the people about the mysterious advice.

“We should collect palm leaf ribs. Next, we will gather in this place to whip ourselves with that.”

They immediately went to their own garden. They picked ribs from the palm leaves and arranged them into whips. Every person now had their own whip and gathered in the district head’s yard.

Together they asked for the gods’ forgiveness and deliverance of suffering. They whipped themselves with the palm leaf ribs. After a while they had scars on their back and chest skin. They managed to bear the pain, but the gods did not show any of their mercy.

“Perhaps we did not sincerely whip ourselves because we actually didn’t want to feel the pain. I had an idea for us to whip each other to do this in earnest,” said a man.

Finally the people whipped each other. This time they did it in earnest. And that was true, not long afterward the sky got dark and the wind blew harder. It rained and people cheered. They cried, “Udane tiba! Udane tiba!”3

Later on, this whipping rites is known as tiban. Since then, whenever they have a long dry season, they do Tiban  to call out the rain.

Their faith in the real gods had returned. The King was so angry knowing his people’s rebelliousness. He ordered his soldiers to punish anyone who broke his rule. But the people did not fear him anymore. They regained consciousness that the King was not God. The King’s anger was insignificant compared to the real gods’.

Some people even brave enough to rebel againts the tyrannous king and seeked sovereignity.   This people’s rebellion expanded to the neighboring regions in Kadiri so it was hard for the king to stop them. He fled from the town and finally the rest of people lived freely and happily.


1 = the district of Purwokerto is now called Ngimbang, Ngadiluwih, south Kediri
2 = Tapa pepe is an act of being an ascetic by exposing oneself to the sun for a long time
3 = “Udane tiba! Udane tiba!” (Javanese) means “It rains! It rains!”

This post is also available in Bahasa Indonesia.

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