Photo & People

The Sacred Beauty of Rejepan Plabengan Ceremony in Central Java, Indonesia

Behind The Traditional Ceremony

Ki Ageng Makukuhan was a well-know Muslim Scholar from Cepit Hamlet, which is located in Pagergunung, Temangung Central Java. He was believed to be the successor of “Wali Songo” - the nine saints who played a historic role in the spreading of Islam in Java. 

landscape photography eos 5dsr

EOS 5DS R; EF16-35mm f/2.8L USM;  f/9; 150mm; 1/200 sec; ISO-125

Plabengan was an office that the Islamic scholars used to pass on Ki Ageng’s teachings. They usually incorporate Islamic teachings with traditional art such as Javanese gending, opera, and kuda lumping dance to attract people. This was appealing for the native Javanese who practised animism to accept the peaceful learning of “Wali Songo” which led to them to understand Islam.  

culture indonesia traditional ceremony eos 5dsr

EOS 5DS R; EF16-35mm f/2.8L USM;  f/4.5; 200mm; 1/640sec; ISO-500

Ways to Capture The Real Ceremony

The villagers of Cepit Hamlet celebrated it as “Raejepan Plabengan” thanksgiving ceremony. During the month of Rajab on Friday, people would gather and walk through the hillside of Sumbing Mountain.

eos 5dsr traditional ceremony in indonesia

EOS 5DS R; EF16-35mm f/2.8L USM;  f/8; 185mm; 1/100 sec; ISO-125

They carry baskets made from bamboo webbing filled with food. The elders lead the prayers, followed by a meal. The main dish is free-range chicken with various side dishes, locally produced food, and black coffee which is Ki Ageng Makukuhan’s favorite beverage.

eos 5ds traditional ceremony indonesia

EOS 5DS R; EF16-35mm f/2.8L USM;  f/5.6; 16mm; 1/60 sec; ISO-1250

eos 5dsr traditional ceremony in indonesia

EOS 5DS R; EF16-35mm f/2.8L USM;  f/8; 22mm; 1/125 sec; ISO-500

It requires an effective lens and camera to capture the traditional ceremony of “Tenongan Rejepan Plabengan” because it is located deep inside of the Pagergunung village. We must go through mountain slopes, uphill hiking path and face the cold temperatures of Pagergunung to reach the location.

eos 5dsr traditional ceremony indonesia

EOS 5DS R; EF16-35mm f/2.8L USM;  f/3.2; 80mm; 1/5000 sec; ISO-1250

The most useful equipment to bring besides the Canon EOS 5DS R are the Canon EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM, EF16-35mm f/2.8L USM along with spare batteries to anticipate the higher battery consumption due the cold temperature at the mountain slopes location.

The AV-Aperture Priority mode is a great way to make shooting easier, because with this, we will only think about the selection of sharp space (DOF - Depth Of Field) that will be displayed in our photo. With rapid and unexpected moments of change during the event, we wouldn’t want to miss any of the very interesting stages of Rejepan Plabengan's ceremony.

traditional ceremony indonesia with canon eos 5dsr

EOS 5DS R; EF16-35mm f/2.8L USM;  f/8; 18mm; 1/60 sec; ISO-1250

This event of Plabengan Rejepan is interesting because the event itself was a milestone in the early history of the dissemination of Islam before its massive spread across Java. The traditional ceremony Rejepan Plabengan is not only about commemorating the syiar and thanksgiving, but also the various philosophies of life that is beginning to fade from our modern life. Starting from the tradition of communal dining with simple dishes and cutleries, alms and sharing with everyone is a special attraction that we must maintain.

canon eos 5dsr traditional ceremony indonesia

EOS 5DS R; EF16-35mm f/2.8L USM;  f/5.6; 26mm; 1/100 sec; ISO-1250

traditional ceremony captured by canon eos 5dsr indonesia

EOS 5DS R; EF16-35mm f/2.8L USM;  f/5.6; 22mm; 1/60 sec; ISO-1250

Have seen other beautiful traditional ceremonies? Share your stories at the comments below!  Learn more about other traditional ceremony in Indonesia from here.

Check out below articles:

In Focus: EOS 5DS, 5DS R

Announcing the EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM Ultra-wide Angle Zoom Lens: Coated with Both SWC & ASC

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EOS 5DS R (Body)


EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM


Misbachul Munir

Misbachul Munir is a professional photographer from Indonesia. He has been in this industry for over 20 years and has traveled around the globe on assignments for a number of successful companies. He also works as a travel writer in some magazines. His photos have won several awards and he also joined the panel in many prestigious photo contests. He is well-experienced in shooting a various genre in photography. However, his passion is Black and White, Human Interest and Landscape Photography.


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