Java is a land of exotic mysticism; hundreds years old rituals that had been taught from one generation to another. These rituals, thick with Eastern spiritual beliefs, are becoming hard to find in the modern cities. This coming week, Tugu’s 900 hectares coffee plantation, Kawisari Coffee Plantation, the oldest coffee plantation in East Java, presents this very rare opportunity to discover the rituals that are the foundation and way of life of the Javanese villagers who live in the slopes of the Mount Kelud.
The time has almost arrived for the much awaited coffee harvest. In the coming week, Joko Gondel, the groom and his bride, Sri Gondel will be carried in a festive parade to the altar in establishing their life commitment. A pair of twin Javanese traditional flower arrangements, called Kembar Mayang, held by two men, will grace the procession. Upon arriving at the gate of the building, they will be greeted by another pair of twin Kembar Mayang, carried by two other young beautiful women. The meeting of these twin pairs Kembar Mayang and the exchange of those twins amongst them signify the marriage that takes place between the bride and groom.
Joko Gondel and Sri Gondel, in actuality, are not real figures. They are two prominent figures that play the most important role in the coffee picking ritual that dates back to 1870. They are prime coffee fruit from the Kawisari and Sengon coffee plantations. People believe that the fruit of the coffee plantations formed from the marriage between Sri Gondel and Joko Gondel symbolize a fertilization between the pistil and stamens (Sri = female, Joko = male).
Symbolizing the first harvest, Joko Gondel and Sri Gondel are placed in a small jar and carried in a batik cloth in a procession, starting by two men carrying the twins Kembar Mayang. Sri Gondel and Joko Gondel are then handed to one of the elderly in the plantation. They are flanked by four beautiful Kembar Mayang twins, a gift to the leader of the coffee plantation, symbolizing gratitude for the bountiful harvest and wishes for the safety and well-being of all the villagers who live and work in the plantation. The procession is further manifested in a series of ceremony ‘selametan’ led by a religious leader.
Kawisari coffee plantation is located above an altitude of 1,000 m above sea level, while the plantation Sengon underneath (with coffee branded under Kawisari coffee as well), at approximately 600-800 m, stretching over Wlingi district, Blitar, East Java. Both plantations are flanked by Gunung Kelud and Gunung Kawi. In both plantations, the finest coffee seeds were planted, handpicked, and roasted using authentic, traditional methods. The plantation is maintained by the local villagers of the surrounding villages that are steeped with hundreds years old traditions and spirituality. The local villages strongly believe that the plantation is a special place eternally protected by the Gods, and that once upon a time, this was the location of the Lembusuro and Mahesosuro kingdoms. The plantation has also been believed to be the last stop of the kings and princes before reaching the meditation place of the sacred Mount Kawi, where they must cleanse themselves from worldly sins before facing their Gods.