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.




Releasing Chickens

and Other Animals

at Sacred Graves

C. 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).`



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.

An Icon in The City of Sarolangun

Ikan Keloso (or Kelisa) This is a 15' long fish monument that is located at the entrance leading to the government offices in Sarolangun (Kantor Bupati)

Ikan Keloso (or Kelisa)
This is a 15′ long fish monument that is located at the entrance leading to the government offices in Sarolangun (Kantor Bupati)

While visiting the City of Sarolangun we had the opportunity to meet in the home of the Sekretaris Daerah (Sekda) Kabupaten Sarolangun, Bapak (Mr.) H. Thabroni Rozali. This man invited us to the Kantor Bupati (Bupati’s office) the next morning, where he introduced us to eight men who were kepala adat & ketua adat (cultural experts), as well as the heads of various government agencies.


Kecoa (Cockroach)

These creatures are a normal part of life in Indonesia. If you come for a visit, prepare yourself to see and deal with them.


Picture taken at our Jambi home.
June 25, 2013

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50′ Fish Trap

While visiting a village along the Tabir River, we noticed a construction in the middle of the river. The local people told us it was a sukam, a large fish trap. Evidently the fish swimming downstream will enter this trap.


This is the same picture as the one above.

Sukam [Picture taken April 5, 2013]
Large fish trap in the middle of the Tabir River
Merangin Regency of the Jambi Province


Ayam Kampung

(Village Chickens)

The Lean Ayam Kampung.(Neighborhood Chicken)

The Lean Ayam Kampung
(Neighborhood Chicken)

Free Roaming Chickens

Yes, there are chickens that roam around the neighborhood where we live, well within the city limits of Jambi. There are no restrictions on raising chickens this way, and people with yard space, or those who live close to small gardens, often raise chickens, geese, ducks, goats, cows, and even water buffalo, in the very same way; they roam about freely.


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