English (United Kingdom)Indonesian (ID)

Tedhak Siten - Ritual of Foot Stepping on Earth

Ritual of Foot Stepping on Earth

Tedhak means go-down or foot stepping. Siten comes from the word Siti which means soil, the earth. Tedhak siten means stepping foot on the earth. This ritual depicts the child’s readiness to go through and face  a successful life ahead with God’s blessing and guidance from the parents and elder peoples .

It is also believed that this ritual  depicts the closeness and respect  of  a human being to Ibu Pertiwi , which means the motherland. 

It is expected that the kid  should live a proper life , also being able to take care and love the earth so that he/she can enjoy a  happy life. This is also to remind everyone that the earth  have and always supported our lives. Without the earth , it is hard to imagine the  existence of a human being, a spirit who wears physical and subtle body.

People should thank God for the fertile soil and a  conducive nature, so that all beings including human  can live on earth. This is an opportunity to do the best we can,  not only for ourself and family but for mankind. All are God’s will.

It shall not be forgotten that land is one of  of human elements, the others are wind, water and fire.
The four elements support the human existence in the world.

When is Tedhak siten   ?

It is when the baby is 7 selapan=245 days. Selapan is a combination  between the day seven  of  international calendar and the day five of Javanese calendar. It is called weton or selapanan means 35 days.

Usually the Tedhak siten ritual ceremony is done in the morning at the front yard and attended by the parents , grandparents, close family plus neighbours/friends.

Like in other traditional ceremonies, the tedhak siten ritual ceremony  is also marked with sajen/offering consiting of :  flowers, herbal, vegetables . This offering is  arranged beautifully adding the festive as well as sacral atmosphere.

Offering is not  superstition, it symbolizes request and pray to God the Almighty in order to get  blessings and protection from Gusti, God, to get blessings from the ancestors, to combat evil deed from human and bad spirit.  

The Ceremony

  1. The kid is guided to walk on 7 different coloured  of  delicacies made of glutinous rice , the colours are red, white, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet.  This is a hope that he/she in the future would be able to overcome all obstacles in life.

  2. The kid is guided to step up on a  ladder made of “Arjuna” sugar cane then  step down. Sugar cane in Javanese is tebu , an acronym on Antebing Kalbu (whole heartedly determination). The sugar cane Arjuna – the kids is expected to be  like Arjuna- a true fighter and warrior. Passing an Arjuna Ladder is depicting that he/she should be able to go through life with determination and confidence like the heroic Arjuna.
  3. Stepping down from the ladder the kid is guided to walk on a pile of sand. He/She should then ceker-ceker (Javanese)which means that when the kid is all grown up, he/she will be able to work and earn their own living.
  4. The kid is guided to enter to a decorated  cock’s cage. Inside the cage there are many items , such as book, jewelery, golden accessories (like ring, necklace,etc), and other useful items. The kid will then  choose whatever he picks up. Should he/she picks a book, then people will believe that one day he/she will be working in an office or be a professor. If the kid chosses a cell-phone, he/she would one day be a technician or communication expert. The cage is depicting  the real world, so the kid is entering the real world where through his/her intuation in her/his early age the kid chooses her/his own future .
  5. The father and grandfather will then throw udik-udik (coins and petal of  flowers). It is a hope that one day the kid would become  a generous person, helpful , kindhearted and in return he will have an  easy way of living . In some occasion,  the mother carries the kid and joins  the father and grandfather to throw udik-udik.
  6. The kid then bathed or cleansed with water with Sritaman flowers, consists of jasmine, magnolia,rose, and cananga. It is hoped that the kid in the future would contribute a good name to the family. 

Finally, the kid is dressed neatly and beautifully with a new dress. It is depicting that in the future the kid would enjoy a good and prosperous life . He/She could make the parents live happily ever after.

Before the Tedhak Siten ends,  lunch is served and the whole family are happy and wish that God Almighty will bless them all.





Suryo S. Negoro
Translated and edited by Arie Suryo and Angela Sri Utami