Religion and Beliefs
The practice of seeking wealth (pesugihan) through sexual activities as part of rituals is one of the factors driving the increasing prevalence of HIV and AIDS, especially in the Tulungagung region, East Java, Indonesia. Often under the guise of tradition, this practice is maintained, though in secrecy. This research attempts to dismantle the meaning of the myth of wealth-seeking with sex rituals.
Using qualitative method, data were collected via observation and in-depth interviews in 2018. The data include interviews with juru kunci (the tomb care-taker), visitors, sexual workers and their clients, and community members in the surrounding area. Findings show that the practice of sacred sex and prostitution are like two sides of the same coin. Seeking wealth equals to being loved and this is somehow related to prostitution. Women who work as sex workers there believe in the blessing of Ni Roro Kembang Sore by becoming women who are loved by people, especially men. This would then lead to having more clients when they are practicing near the tomb. The prostitution is sacred and mundane at the same time. Yet, it is pivotal to understand that though this practice seems to be sacred, the reason behind is always be economical. Sacred prostitution is nonetheless a way to have more wealth: a very mundane act.