The present Sultan of Yogyakarta retains the title of Sultan although Yogyakarta has become one of the provinces of the Republic of Indonesia. He is also the governor of the province, and is still considered the cultural head of this region, and is greatly revered by his subjects. Even with Yogya’s modernization, the Keraton of Yogya continues to be respected by the people of Yogya, steeped as it is in mysticism and philosophy. In the afternoons, after the palace is closed to visitors, women in traditional costume can be seen respectfully sprinkling water and flowers on the pillars, lighting incense to “cleanse” the keraton from evil spirits.

Hamengkubowono IX, the previous sultan of Yogyakarta, was Indonesia's vice president from 1973-1978 under President Suharto. According to NPR: “Many Indonesians admire the current sultan's father,Hamengkubowono IX, as a shrewd political player who has consistently picked the winning side in times of conflict. For example in 1945, he staked his money and legitimacy on the fledgling republic of Indonesia in its war against its former Dutch colonial masters. In 1998, he sided with reformers who ousted the dictator Suharto. Prince Prabukusumo emphasizes that his father sacrificed his very own sovereignty to help establish the nation. "This was a tremendous sacrifice of dignity," he says emphatically, "because the sultanate erased its own national name to become a mere part of the republic. Can you imagine that?" “The sultan's gamble paid off, and Indonesia's constitution was written so that he could serve as both monarch and governor. Indonesia's House of Representatives is now debating how to resolve the current dispute.[Source: NPR, December 15, 2011 /=/]

According to The Economist: “The sultans of the ancient Javanese city of Yogyakarta have a knack for political survival. In 1945, at the start of the war for Indonesia’s independence against Dutch colonialists, Sukarno rewarded Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX for fighting on the side of the new republic by appointing him governor for life. He was good to his word. Decades later pro-democracy protesters overthrew Sukarno’s successor, Suharto, in 1998, and ushered in a period of far-reaching constitutional change. Legislators introduced elections for provincial governors—almost everywhere. Somehow, even then, Yogyakarta’s sultans clung on to power.” [Source: The Economist, September 6, 2012 /*]

In Yogyakarta “support for the sultan seems to stem not so much from any wider repudiation of democratic values as from the city’s place at the heart of Javanese identity. Whereas Jakarta grew out of the Dutch trading port of Batavia, Yogyakarta is a successor to the Mataram sultanate, the last of Java’s great empires to resist colonial conquest. The city, which radiates outwards from the white-washed walls of the sultan’s court, remains a leisurely centre of fine arts, culture and learning. To Yogyakartans the national government’s attempts to introduce democracy looked like nothing so much as an assault on the city’s traditions and special status within the republic. /*\

Palaces of Sultan of Yogyakarta

The palace of the Sultan Yogyakarta, known as the Keraton (also spelled kraton or karaton), is a grand complex that was meticulously planned to reflect the Javanese cosmos. This splendid example of traditional Javanese architecture has no equal. Designed and built in stages, the Keraton was completed in 1790. This elegant complex of pavilions was constructed entirely on ancient beliefs and each feature of the complex, from the courtyards to the trees, has a special symbolic meaning related to sophisticated Javanese world view. This palace was designed to be more than just a royal residence. It was built to be a focal point of the Sultan’s entire kingdom. Today, the Keraton is a piece of living history and tradition. It continues to be used, both as a home of the Sultan as well as for other important ceremonial and cultural functions of the Yogya court. [Source: Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, Republic of Indonesia ^]

Margaret Conley of ABC News wrote: “Kraton is the Javanese term for royal palace, and Kraton Ngayogyokarto Hadiningrat, established in 1755, is the sultan's palace in Yogyakarta. Built in line with Javanese beliefs in mysticism, spirituality and symbolism, the palace area is designed with intricate underground tunnels, for the royal family to get around conveniently, and large open spaces for ceremonies. In the lavish pavilion where Hamengku Buwono X was crowned after his father, Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX, died in 1988, chandeliers dangle from the canopy-shaped ceiling varnished with gold-colored plates. Pillars are wrapped with golden lotus and leaf ornaments, which symbolize goodness, according to Hindu and Buddhist beliefs. Calligraphy spells out "Allah" and "Muhammad" for Islam's Prophet Muhammad. [Source: Margaret Conley, ABC News, January 30, 2009]

The Keraton is built facing directly north towards the majestic Mt. Merapi with to its south backing the Indian Ocean which is believed to be the abode of Kanjeng Ratu Loro Kidul, the Queen of the South Seas and the mystical consort of the Sultan. Malioboro road was originally used as the ceremonial route, not unlike London’s Pall Mall, and forms a straight line drawn from the Sultan’s palace to the Merapi volcano. A green square called alun-alun fronting the palace, has a large banyan tree in its center, while behind the palace is another similar square. When a sultan dies, the cortege leaves by the southern gate on its way to the cemetery of kings at Imogiri. ^

The Water Castle, in the older part of Yogyakarta, is the former pleasure palace of Sultan Hamengkubuwono. Much of the castle is in ruins and is not much more than an intriguing collection of pools, arches and underground passageways intermixed with houses in the neighborhood around the bird market. The nymph baths in the central courtyard however have been completely restored. The original water palace was built on between 1758 and 1765 for the sultan and was designed by a Portuguese architect. It is said that when the baths were complete te architect was executed to keep the design of the baths secret. In any case the palace was damaged in the Javanese War of Succession and destroyed by an earthquake in 1865.

Royal Yogyakarta Festival

Every year fingernail clippings of the sultan of Yogyakarta are offered to Mt. Merpati volcano god and locks of his hair were offered to sea goddess of Java's southern coast. In Solo, up to the 1990s anyway, a 30-meter-high, phallus-shaped tower was erected in the palace courtyard and sultan and sultan was officially married to Loro Kidul, Goddess of the South Seas. In the upper reaches of the tower the sultan spent the night making passionate love to the goddess. Crowds waited up all night to find out the outcome. If the goddess was satisfied the equilibrium between the earth and the sea would be maintained. If not there might be earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis or floods. [Source: "Ring of Fire" by Lawrence and Lorne Blair, Bantam Books, New York]

On the ceremony for Loro Kidul in Yogyakarta, The Economist reported: “In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful,” the turbaned priest begins in the orthodox Muslim style. But that is as far as orthodoxy goes. As the annual labuhan ceremony unfolds, he blesses the various offerings the Sultan of Yogyakarta has prepared for Loro Kidul, the goddess of the surrounding seas: silk, curry, bananas, hair and toenail clippings. [Source: The Economist, May 29, 2003 |+|]

“The goddess, apparently, will be pleased with these items when they are carried in procession to the sea and thrown in, as will another local deity, who receives similar gifts tossed into a nearby volcano. The 200-odd participants, at any rate, seem happy with the proceedings: they bow their heads during the blessings, and take turns lighting incense at a curiously-shaped rock that is the focus of the cult. Later, some even charge into the foaming ocean to pluck a lucky banana from the waves. |+|

“This ritual has more to do with Java's Hindu and pagan past than with the professed religion of the vast majority of the island's inhabitants, Islam. Votive offerings, veneration of objects or idols and, above all, any hint of polytheism are anathema to most Muslims. Yet many Javanese happily describe themselves as Muslim, attend mosques and fast during Ramadan, while continuing to practice the folk religion of their forebears. The sultan himself, Hamengkubuwono X, a respected politician often mentioned as a possible president, takes pride in the preservation of local rituals while maintaining a reputation as a devout Muslim. This laxity about doctrine has given rise to the notion that Indonesian Islam in particular, and South-East Asian Islam in general, is more tolerant and less prone to extremism than that of the Middle East.” |+|

Current Sultan of Yogyakarta

His Highness Sultan Hamengkubuwong X of Yogyakarta was crowned after his father, Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX, died in 1988, The 10th sultan now serves as head of the internal government of the Kraton as well as the third governor of Yogyakarta. In 2009, he ran for president of Indonesia.

Sultan Hamengkubuwong X is generally well respected and has been considered as a possible candidate for president. Regarded as one of Indonesia’s most progressive leaders, he likes to smoke cigars, and has encouraged villagers to use the Internet so Indonesia can be competitive in the global marketplace. He loves dancing to pop music and lives in a palace with 2,000 servants. Occasionally he contacts the nine previous sultans through mediation in a small room at the center of the palace not open to his servants

Sultan Hamengkubuwong X was born in 1948 and turned 65 in 2013 and is law school graduate. His name means “he who carries the universe on his lap” or "sustainer of the universe". He played a crucial rule in keeping unrest from spiraling out of control in Yogyakarta in the weeks before Suharto's resignation when he appeared in the midst of a crowd of 500,000 protestors, rioters and looters and told people to put down their stones and peacefully stage protests at his palace to call for the military to oust Suharto.

Andrew Marshall of Associated Press wrote: “The sultan of Yogyakarta, “a palace publication explains, is a "divinely chosen person" whose coronation is preceded by "a supernatural message." Along with the everyday business of governing Yogyakarta, the sultan is also responsible for placating a powerful sea goddess called Ratu Kidul, and Merapi's guardian ogre, Sapu Jagat. [Source: Andrew Marshall, Associated Press, January 2008 ]

“Hamengku Buwono X heads a dynasty that dates back to the 18th century. His official portrait shows him in full Javanese court attire, a curved dagger tucked into his magnificent batik sarong. His everyday wear is an impeccably tailored dark suit—preferably Armani. In his office, during an interview, he puffs on a fat Davidoff cigar. A large painting of a volcano hangs on the wall behind him. "Not Merapi," he says dismissively. "Fuji." Though tradition requires he employ Marijan [the gatekeeper of Merapi], Hamengku Buwono X, a law graduate, does not believe in volcano-dwelling spirits. He is a progressive Muslim who has urged Yogyakartans to consider Merapi's eruptions from a scientific perspective. "A great nation cannot be built on pessimistic myths," he believes.

Sultan Hamengkubuwong X ran for presidency of Indonesia in 2009. "In responding to the call of the motherland, I now declare that I will contest as a presidential candidate in 2009," the sultan announced from his palace to thunderous applause and shouts of "Hidup Sultan" or "long live the king," according to the Straits Times. The sultan’s stading was high enough that he was considered among the top five contenders. But many had doubts about his running. A member of his court told ABC News. [Source: Margaret Conley, ABC News, January 30, 2009]

Political Power of the Yogyakarta Sultan's Challenged

In 2011, NPR reported: Indonesia’s “royal traditions and modern politics are now at odds over the Sultan of Yogyakarta, who has maintained his privileged status while doubling as an unelected provincial governor. The political tussle began a year ago when Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhono proposed that the governor of Yogyakarta be elected by the people. Not surprisingly, Sultan Hamengkubowono X, along with his supporters, are resisting the move. [Source: NPR, December 15, 2011 /=/]

“Widodo is a 73-year-old court retainer and one of more than 2,000 guards, cooks and artisans who serve the court. Dressed in a batik sarong and cap, he says that folks in Yogyakarta object to the president's proposed change. "I disagree with the idea of electing our governor," he says, puffing on a myrrh-scented cigarette. "Most Jogjakartans can't accept it either. This place is special. The sultanate existed before the Republic of Indonesia was created." "So our president knows nothing," he adds dismissively. /=/

“Prince Prabukusumo is the current sultan's younger brother. Speaking in his ornate home within the royal walled city, he says that Javanese are also proud of the sultan's role as a guardian of tolerance towards their diverse Islamic, Hindu and Buddhist religious heritage. He points out that this role is embodied in the pendopo, a characteristic building in Javanese palace architecture. "In other countries, presidents or kings sit with their backs to the wall, for security," he explains. "But the sultan of Java sits in the middle of a wall-less hall. The philosophy is that all winds can touch his body. The wind symbolizes the voice of the people." /=/

“Political scientist Purwo Santoso of Yogyakarta's Gadjah Mada University advocates preserving the sultanate as a symbolic position, above the fray of partisan politics. "We came up with the idea of establishing new institution," he says, "which allows the sultan [to be] the most respected person in the province, but he's not subject to election, and then someone else serves as governor, and he's the one elected in accordance with the constitution." In pre-colonial times, many Southeast Asian nations were ruled by sultans. Some still are, for example, the tiny Sultanate of Brunei. What professor Santoso is suggesting is basically a constitutional monarchy at the local level, within a modern republic. /=/

"It's like a mixture between traditional legacy, on one hand, and the modern structure we inherit from colonial rule," he explains. "And we're now in confusion, so to speak, on how to plan them together in one coherent system." But Prince Prabukusumo suggests that his brother may not settle for being a mere figurehead. The sultan has made two abortive electoral bids for Indonesia's presidency, and that, his brother claims, is the real reason President Yudhoyono has challenged him. /=/

Yogyakarta's Sultan Keeps His Power as Governor

In 2012, The Economist reported: Last week Sultan Hamengkubuwono X, who became governor of Yogyakarta, or “Jogja”, in 1998, dodged another constitutional bullet. On August 30th the national legislature enshrined in law the controversial convention whereby the sultan “inherits” the title of governor. (The title of vice-governor is held by the royal house of Paku Alam, which rules a small principality within the sultanate.) The new law concludes almost a decade of tense negotiations between Yogyakarta and the government in Jakarta.” [Source: The Economist, September 6, 2012 /*]

In democratic Indonesia, “the sultan’s hereditary claim to the governorship is a striking anomaly. In the rest of the archipelago, provincial governors, along with most other executive officials, from village chief up to president, are now elected directly by the people. Yet the sultan’s subjects themselves have vigorously defended their right to remain disenfranchised. Angry protests erupted in Jogja in 2010 when the president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, expressed his support for direct elections. /*\

In the face of such opposition, Mr Yudhoyono’s government has abandoned its attempts to foist democracy on the royalty-doting Yogyakartans. It has, however, extracted a concession in return: the sultan and his heirs will have to renounce all ties to political parties. In practice, this is likely to benefit Mr Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party, since the sultans have traditionally allied themselves with a rival party, Golkar. The current sultan had even been seen as a possible running mate for Golkar’s chairman, Aburizal Bakrie, at the next presidential election in 2014. The sultan could conceivably still run as an independent in two years’ time. /*\

“ It is tempting to dismiss Yogyakartans’ fealty to their sultan as a reflection of popular disenchantment with democracy. And there is some evidence that Indonesians are fed up with their elected politicians. A survey conducted last year, for example, found that Suharto’s authoritarian “New Order” was seen as preferable to politics in the reform era. Some national politicians certainly seem to be losing patience with local democracy: Mr Yudhoyono’s government is proposing revisions to a regional governance law that would replace direct elections for governors with indirect elections by local legislatures. This would in effect transfer power from ordinary voters to political parties.” /*\

Serving the Yogyakarta Sultan

Margaret Conley of ABC News wrote: Sumarsono demonstrates how he walks, kneels to the ground with his head bowed and makes no eye contact when in the presence of Sultan Hamengku Buwono, the leader of the special region of Yogyakarta, a province on the Indonesian island of Java. For the past 27 years, 49-year-old Sumarsono has dedicated himself to serving the sultan and, at less than $1 a month in wages, considers it an honor. "Three generations in my family have worked at the Kraton," he says, referring to the small city within a city. [Source: Margaret Conley, ABC News, January 30, 2009 /~/]

“Sumarsono shares some of the cherished traditions that are upheld throughout the Kraton. He points out the detail of batik textile patterns on the elaborate costumes worn by the royal family on display. Fine batik fabrics, sometimes silk, are made by hand, using a wax and dyeing process. It can take months to complete a single piece. In a locked room just outside the palace wall are two gamelan musical instrument sets. An ensemble of gongs, flutes, xylophones and drums, the sets, says Sumarsono, are older than the Kraton itself and are believed to carry some mysticism he can't quite explain."It is a precious and valuable Kraton treasure," says Sumarsono, whose skill as a musician has earned him the rare privilege of playing this gamelan set three times over the course of his nearly three-decade career. /~/

“Sumarsono expresses some concern that coming generations may not carry the same depths of devotion to the sultan in the future. Already many who work at the Kraton are now there part-time, leaving in the afternoon for other paying jobs to make a living in the modern world. Younger generations who hold contemporary jobs aren't as willing to give up their days to serve the sultan, as Sumarsono does, though the honor of working there is not lost on them. "I don't know how they do it, but I respect the Kraton workers," says a youthful working woman who prefers not to be named. As for the next generation of Sumarsono's own family, he is giving his three children the choice of whether or not to follow in their father's footsteps. It is a choice he wasn't given, and a chance to pave their own way for their futures, passed on to them.” /~/

Gatekeeper of Merapi

Mbah Marijan, an octogenarian with dazzling dentures and a taste for menthol cigarettes, is the Gatekeeper of Merapi, one of the more bizarre jobs in Indonesia, or anywhere else, for that matter. Andrew Marshall of Associated Press wrote: “The fate of villagers like Udi and of the 500,000 residents of Yogyakarta, a city 20 miles (32 kilometers) to the south, rests on Marijan's thin shoulders. It is his responsibility to perform the rituals designed to appease an ogre believed to inhabit Merapi's summit. This time, the rituals seem to have fallen short. The warnings grow more urgent. Volcanologists, military commanders, even Indonesia's vice president beg him to evacuate. He flatly refuses. "It's your duty to come talk to me," he tells the police. "It is my duty to stay." [Source: Andrew Marshall, Associated Press, January 2008 ]

“For Marijan, though, an eruption is not so much a threat as a growth spurt. "The kingdom of Merapi is expanding," he says, with a nod at its smoldering peak. If the Centre for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, the government agency that keeps eight seismograph stations humming on Merapi, represents modern science, Marijan, the Gatekeeper of Merapi, is Indonesia at its most mystical. When a Dutch hiker went missing on the volcano in 1996, Marijan reportedly made the thick mist vanish and found the injured hiker in a ravine.

“Overnight, government volcanologists have raised the alert to its highest level. The lava dome might collapse at any moment. Hasn't Marijan heard? The entreaties leave Marijan unimpressed. The alerts are merely guesses by men at far remove from the spirit of the volcano. The lava dome collapse? "That's what the experts say," he says, smiling. "But an idiot like me can't see any change from yesterday." As things heat up around Merapi, dozens of reporters flock to cover the standoff starring the immovable Marijan, Merapi's first media-age Gatekeeper. Soon, his face and the words "President of Merapi" adorn T-shirts all over Yogyakarta. To raise funds for his impoverished Kinarejo neighbors, he appears in a television advertisement for an energy drink. One morning, soldiers arrive. "I don't want to leave," Marijan tells them with all the firmness his creaky voice can convey. "Maybe I'll leave tomorrow. Maybe the day after tomorrow. It's up to me." Then he heads for the village mosque. Marijan's duties may include mollifying a volcano-dwelling ogre. But he is also a devout Muslim who prays five times a day.

“Two days later, the lava dome collapses. Traffic grinds to a halt in downtown Yogyakarta as motorists gape at the scorching avalanche of rocks rushing down Merapi's western flank—away from Marijan's village. Thanks to the timely evacuation, nobody is hurt. Antonius Ratdomopurbo, director of the Volcanological Research and Technological Development Agency in Yogyakarta, is visibly relieved. "Merapi isn't a big volcano, but it's heavily populated. Many people were killed in 1930 simply because they were too close." Marijan has just been lucky, he says. A month later, the lava dome collapses again, this time to the south, and two rescue workers perish under six feet (two meters) of hot ash. Again, fortune—or is it the volcano deity?—spares Marijan's village. Does the Gatekeeper understand anything about the science of volcanoes? "I don't know," replies Ratdomopurbo with a tight smile. "You ask him."

Gatekeeper of Merapi Versus the Sultan of Yogyakarta

Andrew Marshall of Associated Press wrote: “In his stubborn adherence to duty, Marijan has gone head-to-head not only with the authorities but also with his own boss, Hamengku Buwono X, the sultan, who backed the government's call for an evacuation. Marijan, who inherited his job as Merapi's caretaker from his father, is paid the equivalent of a dollar a month by the kraton, as the sultan's high-walled palace in Yogyakarta is known. In traditional Javanese cosmology, the kraton sits on an invisible line between Mount Merapi and the nearby Indian Ocean. [Source: Andrew Marshall, Associated Press, January 2008 ]

“The relationship between the sultan and Marijan is uneasy, to say the least. The two inhabit opposite poles: the modern sultan versus the mystical Gatekeeper. Marijan tells reporters he will evacuate if ordered by the sultan—but he doesn't mean the current ruler. His sultan is the much loved Hamengku Buwono IX, father of Hamengku Buwono X, who appointed Marijan as Gatekeeper and who died almost 20 years ago. "I follow the ninth sultan," he says. "He was the man in the kraton last time I visited." In Marijan's opinion, the current sultan's biggest mistake is allowing businessmen to strip Merapi of millions of cubic feet of rock and sand. "He is not the sultan," says Marijan witheringly. "He's just the governor."

“Marijan is not alone in his disapproval. In 2006, the sultan was conspicuously absent from an annual ritual to bless offerings for the ogre Sapu Jagat and the sea goddess Ratu Kidul. The offerings—which include food, flowers, cloth, and clippings of the sultan's hair and fingernails—are meant to ensure the sacred alignment between the volcano, his palace, and the Indian Ocean, and thus the safety of the people. Less than two weeks after Merapi's first major eruption of 2006, a powerful earthquake had struck south of Yogyakarta, killing more than 5,000 people. The palace and royal burial grounds were also badly damaged—an ill omen for the sultan, already the target of public outrage over the slow distribution of relief funds. Damage control was in order. Even a modern sultan can't escape the force of the old beliefs. With or without him, the annual ritual offerings had to be made.

“So the sultan's staff laid out offerings in the quake-damaged courtyard for a brief ceremony, then sent them to waiting cars, which sped off in two separate directions. The first set of offerings was brought to Marijan's house. The next morning, the Gatekeeper hiked to a pavilion a mile from the volcano's peak where, amid trees snapped in half by the latest pyroclastic flow and the crash of tumbling boulders, he solemnly prayed over the sultan's offerings. A second set of offerings was driven south to Parangkusumo, the Indian Ocean beach where, legend says, the sultan's 16th-century ancestor Senopati met the sea goddess Ratu Kidul. Thousands of houses lay in rubble amid the rice fields. At Parangkusumo, the sultan's staff buried his hair and fingernail clippings near the beach, in a walled-off compound where two flower-strewn stones marked the site of the ancient encounter. Other offerings were flung into the waves. It is August. Three months have elapsed since the first major eruption of the year. Though still active, Merapi has settled down. Residents attribute the calm to Marijan's prayers and presence on the volcano. But calm in Indonesia is about as long lasting as a plume of smoke.

Reverence and Succession Issues for the Yogyakarta Royal Family

Margaret Conley of ABC News wrote: “The sultan is widely revered throughout the region. "Ninety-eight percent of Yogyakarta people think he's good," says Rono Slameta, one of the more than 10,000 people who live and work in the greater Kraton area. "The sultan sees the gap between the rich and poor." The people say their ruler, despite his title and status, has not lost touch with them and the community. "He's humble," says Yatno, who like many here goes by one name. "When there are kampung (or village) football competitions, he visits sometimes and watches." "We are as a common people [who] also blend with community," says his oldest daughter in her second language, English. Princess Gusti Kanjeng Ratu Pembayun, whose family did not inherit sizable wealth, was enrolled in a public school rather than being home-schooled like previous royal family children. [Source: Margaret Conley, ABC News, January 30, 2009 /~/]

“Yogyakarta “youths still believe in the Kraton's mysticism, the Javanese worldview that through the cosmic universe, magic and religion, the sultan is able to protect them. They also respect royal convention. People can keep the reverence alive if they "hold on to tradition and still do some of it," says Fenny, who works at an upscale hotel outside the Kraton. /~/

Not all of his subjects are fond of the sultan’s modern ideas. Andrew Marshall of Associated Press wrote: Some Javanese don’t appreciate the sultan’s dismissal of their traditions. “Some in Yogyakarta accuse Hamengku Buwono X of turning this cultural capital into a city of shopping malls and of spending too much time on the golf course. They yearn for the comfort of ancient rites and criticize the sultan for neglecting ceremonies his father routinely attended. In 2006, the sultan was conspicuously absent from an annual ritual to bless offerings for the ogre Sapu Jagat and the sea goddess Ratu Kidul. The offerings—which include food, flowers, cloth, and clippings of the sultan's hair and fingernails—are meant to ensure the sacred alignment between the volcano, his palace, and the Indian Ocean, and thus the safety of the people.” [Source: Andrew Marshall, Associated Press, January 2008]

“This generation of royals appears to have adapted to the modern world, running for public office and holding down jobs, while staying loyal to Javanese tradition. They do still hold on to their past, says Princess Pembayun. "We have an obligation to perpetuate our cultures, outside or inside the Kraton. All basic rules, especially traditional ceremony, cannot be changed or replaced, even though we are in modern life and more practical." /~/

“Succession to the throne, because he has no sons, would go to the sultan's younger brother, who is also popular with the people because he shares the same highly regarded father. The institution of a male sultan is so strongly regarded that the oldest of his five daughters hasn't even considered asking her father about the possibility of a female leader. "It is not my capacity to answer it, and I have never asked it to my father," says Princess Pembayun. While some don't rule out the possibility, others won't buck tradition when it comes to the notion of a female sultan. "I would retire," says tour guide H. Suhadi. /~/

Royal Wedding in 2013 for Yogyakarta Sultan's Fourth Daughter

In 2013, Gusti Ratu Kanjeng Hayu married Kanjeng Pangeran Haryo Notonegoro, Sultan Hamengkubuwono X's fourth daughter. The couple dated for 10 years and met at high school reunion and became romantically involved in the United States. He is ten years older. The Daily Mail reported: “Indonesia was in the throes of royal fever as a three-day wedding began. Sultan Hamengkubuwono X's fourth daughter Gusti Ratu Kanjeng Hayu, 29, is marrying Kanjeng Pangeran Haryo Notonegoro. They met at a high school reunion and became romantically involved when she went to university in Washington and he was in New Jersey. Her mother asked him to take her to school and a romance was born. He now works for the United Nations in New York City. Born Angger Pribadi Nugroho, he had been accorded the name Notonegoro for his marriage. He proposed to his girlfriend in June. [Source: Daily Mail Reporter, October 21, 2013]

The grand three-day wedding of pomp and rituals culminates on Wednesday with vows that will be live streamed around the world on the internet. The wedding parade will include 12 royal horse drawn carriages. About 750 guests, including many diplomats, were lucky enough to receive invitations for the actual wedding at the palace. An additional 1,500 received invitations to the reception that follows.

Events on the first day included blessings and a water purification ritual performed by the bride's mother in fragrant room filled with fresh flowers. First the bride kneeled at her father's feet for a traditional blessing. Then both the bride and her groom, 39, went through the purification water bath, staying partially clothed and draped in flowers as they sat eyes closed being photographed. The groom is also from Indonesia.

Notonegoro arrived by carriage to the palace. Princess Hayu asked for her parents' blessing at least twice. Princess Hayu was covered with a cape of flowers during her bath purification ritual held at the sultan's palace in Yogyakarta. The groom was similarly purified with water in the room filled with fresh flowers and pomp. He is the oldest of three sons, and she is the fourth of five daughters. They went to the same high school as one another, but ten years apart. They met at an event for the school before reconnecting in the US. The couple is to be each others only spouse, a royal tradition of monogamy embraced by the bride's father. Previously Sultans practiced polygamy, but Hamengkubuwono X has just one wife.

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

Last updated June 2015

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