Releasing Chickens (or other animals)

[Ayam Lepas]

Ayam LepasThis is a very old batik pattern found in the area of Jambi known as SEKOJA (the other side of the river from the City of Jambi).

Ayam Lepas
This is a very old batik pattern we found at the business called Siti Hajir.

After praying at a grave, and receiving the blessing prayed for, it is said that people need to ensure they fulfill any vow they may have made. Some people will release animals before their blessing is received, and some will do it afterwards. If it is a chicken they release, it is referred to as “ayam lepas” (chicken release). Chickens are the most common, but people also release:

  • Goats
  • Cows
  • Water Buffalo
  • Geese and Ducks
  • Fish are released into rivers.
  • Eggs are placed by the graves, specifically eggs from a black chicken.

Sometimes these animals are merely released and other times they are potong(ed), that is, their necks are cut as a sacrifice and the blood is drained into a hole in the ground. The animals are then eaten by the one sacrificing it, and often shared with others in the neighborhood.

Sacred Grave of Panglima Kuning (husband)

Sacred Grave of Panglima Kuning (husband)

The caretaker (juru kunci) of the sacred graves of Panglima Kuning and Panglima Hitam, said that after the people release chickens at the grave, the chickens will wonder around the village like all the other chickens. The “released” chickens will eventually be eaten by him and his family when they need it for a meal.

We were told that people who release chickens at the grave of Orang Kayo Hitam (translated: black rich person) must release a black chicken, in accordance with the name of the person buried there. Some say that by releasing a black chicken you are symbolically and intentionally involving yourself with black magic.

There are no clear methods or directions given on how to pray or offer these sacrifices at graves. Different villages will release animals in different ways.

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Makam Keramat

(sacred graves)

Sacred graves are common in Indonesia, as many people are known to travel to them (bezirarah) and pray for every imaginable desire or need.

Here are a few of the things people will pray for at these graves:

  • To pass a test in school.
  • To cause someone to fall in love with them (love spell).
    • This will make them appear more beautiful to others.
    • This is also done to help them find a marriage partner.
  • To receive healing.
  • To bless a business.
  • To bless land prior to it being cleared and planted.
    • This special prayer is for obtaining permission from spirits that reside in and around this piece of land. The prayer could also be for the purpose of clearing the area of any spirits that would hinder the prosperity of that land.
  • Prior to entering into battles with enemies.
  • Protection from evil spirits.
  • Protection from any type of danger.
  • Winning gambling numbers.
    • Some say that when your prayers have evil motives, like to gamble or to hurt others, the evil will come back to haunt you.
    • People at the grave called “Makam Syech Keramat Tinggi,” say that people who’ve prayed for winning gambling numbers, or for other evil purposes, have reported that fierce tigers have rushed out of the brush and attacked them. Others reported that they were attacked by giant centipedes.

Releasing Chickens

and Other Animals

at Sacred Graves

Chet speaking with men who were praying at the Grave of Putri Ayu.

Chet speaking with men who were praying at the grave of Putri Ayu.

Upon arrival at the grave of Putri Ayu, an elderly woman was currently enjoying her lunch of rice, chicken, and an assortment of vegetables. I sat down next to the grave and quietly waited for her to finish, while observing a horde of ants making off with a large cockroach leg.

After she finished, and her letting out a long deep burp, I asked her her name as I introduced myself. She told me her name was Ibu Sopia and that she has been the caretaker of the grave of Putri Ayu for five years.

I explained to Ibu Sopia that I was a language student, and to study the language I incorporate the study of Jambi history and culture, and that at this time I was currently gathering information on the practice of releasing animals (ayam lepas) at graves considered to be sacred (makam keramat).

Ibu Sopia explained to me that in addition to praying at sacred graves, people will also bring offerings, such as various types of flowers, like:  Bunga kemboja, bunga melati, bunga tanjung, bunga cempaka or bunga kantil. Chinese Indonesians, following Buddhism  or Confucius religions, will also offer apples, oranges, and bananas, while burning incense.

After concluding prayers at sacred graves, Ibu Sopia told me that people will then release a chicken, goat, cow, and at times, some people will even release a water buffalo. Ibu Sopia said that at the grave of Putri Ayu, people release chickens around 2-3x per month, whereas a goat will be released about 1x every three months. She said the she has never seen people released a cow or a water buffalo there for as long as she’s been the caretaker of the grave (5 yrs).

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Chicken Dreams

In Jambi there’s a considerable amount of mysticism associated with chickens, insomuch that some even say that dreams with chickens in them have a spiritual meaning, and these dreams can be interpreted as follows:

The Lean Ayam Kampung. (Neighborhood Chicken)

The Lean Ayam Kampung
(Neighborhood Chicken)

  • If in your dream you see many chickens, it means that your life will be filled to satisfaction.
  • If you dream of chickens that are laying eggs, it means that you will soon encounter good luck.
  • If you dream of chickens flying to the top of a tree, or to a branch of a tree, it means you will soon receive money from someone.
  • If you dream of a hen locked up, it means you will obtain goodness.
  • If you dream of giving food to a chicken, it means you will obtain success and your business or activities will move forward.
  • If you dream of getting a rooster, you will soon have a child or grandchild.
  • If you dream of your chicken being stolen, it means that something sad is going to take place.
  • If you dream of raising chicks, it means that you should become nervous or worried about your economic condition at this time.
  • If you dream of chasing chickens, it means you will obtain a helper in whatever task you are working on.
  • If you dream of offering a chicken as a sacrifice, it means you will become a great person.
  • If you dream of obtaining a chicken, it means you will soon have a child or grandchild.
  • If you dream of eating chicken meat, it means you will soon get some property of value.

Sunday afternoon, August 10th, we had the pleasure of taking a neighbor to the maternity ward of the Bhayangkara Hospital (Police Hospital) to be with them during the birth of their grandson.

We were told that the hospital is owned by the police, and all on the police department get free medical care. We were also told that because it is free, the expertise and quality of care and the facilities are not as good as they would like for it to be.

It was a nice experience, having had the opportunity to share in the birth of this child!

Police Hospital in Jambi Rumah Sakit Bhayangkara
Police Hospital in Jambi
Rumah Sakit Bhayangkara
The Newborn
The Newborn
Police Hospital in Jambi Rumah Sakit Bhayangkara
Police Hospital in Jambi
Rumah Sakit Bhayangkara

Prasasti Karang Berahi

(Engraved Stone in the Village of Karang Berahi)

Phyllis, standing beside the fence around the engraved Karang Berahi stone.

Phyllis, standing beside the fence around the engraved Karang Berahi stone.

In the Village of Karang Berahi is an engraved stone, though not dated, is claimed by some to have been carved out between 608 and 686 AD1. The language used is the ancient Melayu language, and it being during the time of the Hindu Sriwijaya Kingdom, in many respects resembles ancient Sanskrit.

The writing on the stone is an appeal to the Hindu gods for protection and blessing on the Sriwijaya Kingdom, as well as curses on those who are not loyal to the Kingdom (16 total). The writing on this stone is said to be similar to the writing on similar stones in other locations, like:

How to Find Prasasti Karang Berahi’s Location

The stone is located in Dusun Batu Bersurat, Village Karang Berahi, Pamenang Region of the Merangin Regency of the Jambi Province of Indonesia.

The bridge you get to walk across to see the Karang Berahi stone.

The bridge you get to walk across to see the Karang Berahi stone.

To get there, first drive to the 51 kilometer “mile marker” between the Cities of Sarolangun and Bangko. After arriving at this location, turn north off the main road and travel 1.4 kilometers. The road will dead end. You will need to leave your vehicle and walk to the east about 30 meters (100 feet). From there you will descend a concrete path to a swinging bridge. Yes,… you get to cross the narrow foot/motorcycle bridge to get to the Village of Karang Berahi on the other side of the Merangin River. From there turn left, and ask people in the village the stone’s location. It is only another 61 meters (200 feet).

This stone has had a history of being moved about between its current location in the Village of Karang Berahi and the City of Bangko.

The Karang Berahi stone is maintained in a well-kept park with a roof over it, but tragically exposed to the elements.

The Karang Berahi stone is maintained in a well-kept park with a roof over it, but tragically exposed to the elements.

  1. Moved to the yard in front of the Dutch authority in Bangko.
  2. When the Japanese came, they granted permission for it to be moved back next the the mosque in Dusun Batu Bersurat.
  3. It is said that several children had a dream in which a person named Ulya came and commanded the stone to be moved from its position close to the mosque. In the dream, it was said that Ulya said a great catastrophe will take place in Dusun Batu Bersurat if the stone isn’t move away from the mosque. It was then moved to its current location.
    • The stone’s writing, being a reflection of their ancestor’s Hindu religion, could have prompted the moving of the stone away from the mosque.

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1Junaidi T. Noor, the author of Mencari Jejak Sangkala (pg. 28) says the engraving on the stone can be dated between 608 and 686 AD.

The Jami Al-Ikhsaniyah Mosque went through some major renovations during the last couple of years, and the renovation included the grave of Pangeran (prince) Wiro Kusumo.

On November 2, 2011 we wrote an article about that grave. We also made a video about it, and it includes the Jami Al-Ikhsaniyah Mosque which is located to the side of the grave. You can read that article and watch the video with this link.

Below are a few pictures showing the grave and mosque after the renovation.

Grave of Pangeran (prince) Wiro Kusumo is on the far right. Picture taken on June 21, 2014
Grave of Pangeran (prince) Wiro Kusumo is on the far right. Picture taken on June 21, 2014

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