Delaying the Dragon, Delivering the Heirloom Dragon Back to its Origi

Delaying the Dragon, Delivering the Heirloom Dragon Back to its Origin – The seventh day is the peak day of the festivities of the Erau Festival. On this day, there is a series of rituals starting from morning to evening. One of the sacred rituals on this day is stalling the dragon. In this ritual, the delegation of the Kutai Palace delegation paraded a pair of dragon replicas using a boat to be released at Kutai Lama, the place where the legendary dragon originated.

The dragon stalling ceremony cannot be separated from the legend about Putri Karang Melenu, the consort of the first king of Kutai, Aji Batara Agung Dewa Sakti. The two couples who became the forerunners of the Kutai Kartanegara Ing Martadipura Sultanate family are said not to be descended from ordinary humans. Both of them emerged from two mysterious incidents which were later preserved from generation to generation to become the legend of the Kutai people.

The folk legend tells of the baby Aji Batara Agung Dewa Sakti who suddenly appeared in front of the house of a community leader in Jaitan Layar. The baby is lying on top of Batu Raga Mas with his right hand holding a chicken egg and his left hand holding a gold keris. It is said that the seven gods came down and gave instructions to the prince that the child was from heaven and should be raised in a different way from ordinary human children.

The empress is said to have mysteriously emerged from the bottom of the Mahakam River. The baby was lying on top of a gong held up by a dragon that had emerged from a whirlpool. The dragon then escorted Putri Karang Melenu to the presence of a senior leader of the Hulu Dusun who had raised the dragon. The elder then became an adoptive parent who raised the daughter to adulthood.

The dragon in the dragon stalling ceremony represents the legendary creature in the legend of the Princess Karang Melenu. This replica dragon has a length of approximately 31.5 meters, with a head and tail made of wood. The dragon’s body is made of rattan and bamboo frames wrapped in yellow cloth, decorated with colorful patches as the scales. The two dragons were made before the Erau Festival took place and are embedded in the two wings of the Kutai Palace building (Mulawarman Museum Building).

In this ritual, the two dragon replicas, namely Naga Bini and Naga Laki, are brought from the Kutai Palace to Kutai Lama to be thrown into the river. Along the way, the ship carrying the dragon replica will stop at a number of places to give the gods (ritual service women) and belian (ritual servants) the opportunity to perform ritual communication (indeed) with the supernatural world. Arriving at Jaitan Layar, Kutai Lama, the ship would rotate seven times before finally docked at the shore.

That’s when the head and tail of the dragon are separated from the body. The head and tail were brought back to the Kraton for the Erau Festival in the following years, while the dragon’s body parts were lowered (anchored) from the boat into the river. People will be competing to get parts of the dragon’s scales which are believed to have the power to fulfill the owner’s hopes. [Ardee / IndonesiaKaya]

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