Releasing Chickens (or other animals)
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:
- 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.
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.