Reog Ponorogo is a traditional performing art from Ponorogo, East Java, Indonesia. It is different from Reog Sunda from West Java. This art performance is usually performed in various festivals. Some of them are Grebeg Suro Celebration and Ponorogo regency anniversary. It is also performed every full moon at Ponorogo town square. This dance is telling about a battle between a King and Singa Barong. Singa barong is a magical lion-like creature. In performing this dance, the dancer must wear lion-like mask. It is very heavy. The dancer must bear about 30 kg of this mask until the end of the dance. It is usually performed in a trance state. Before performing the dance, they must do certain rituals to prepare their physical and spiritual.
It is said that the origin of Reog Ponorogo is based on the journey of Prabu Kelana Sewandana, the King of the Bantarangin Kingdom. He made the journey in order to search for his prospective consort, Dewi Sanggalangit, in 900 Saka Year. Dewi Sanggalangit is a Princess of Kediri Kingdom. Her father is the king of Kediri Kingdom. The Bantarangin King was searching for her because she ran away from his Kingdom. Dewi didn’t want to be given in marriage to Prabu Kelana since she didn’t want to have a loveless marriage.
After days of searching, Prabu Kelana finally found Dewi meditating in a cave. He asked her to go home and to marry him. But the princess refused his request because she was not sure about his love for her. He tried to persuade her by promising her that he will obey her wish. From her meditation, the princess got a revelation about something which Prabu Kelana must do. The god sent a message to Dewi Sanggalangit to ask for a new and attractive art. The art must show that the king really loves the prospective king consort.
Prabu Kelana thought hard for days. He was almost run out of ideas on what art that can make the princess felt sure about his love for her. Finally, he got revelation from a goddess, namely Dewi Parwati, to make an art performance in the form of reog barongan dance. Barongan dance is an art performance in which the dancer dressed like a monster. Meanwhile, reog is the mask wore by dancer. Prabu Kelana made a very large reog from a tiger head and peacock feathers to show his love to Dewi Sanggalangit. The tiger head symbolizes the King and the peacock feathers symbolize the prospective king consort.
Prabu then dance wearing the Reog in front of the princess. After watching the dance, Dewi Sanggalangit was very happy and willing to marry him if the dance is performed every year to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Since then, Reog Ponorogo was performed every year as requested by the queen.
This story is growing in the community until now. I hope this story behind Reog Ponorogo really convince us that this traditional art is truly the creation of our predecessors.