For the Javanese, colds are considered as ordinary or common health disorders. In Javanese concept, colds are related with the wind that goes inside the body so that the body gets cold. The cold wind will cause health problems. The theory is based more on natural rather than persona experience. "For the common people, colds occur usually after getting caught in the rain, having no breakfast, or indigestion problem. For the Javanese, it’s different, it can be either physical, mental, or even both," said UGM anthropologist, Dra. Atik Triratnawati, MA, in the Seminar ‘Colds: Java vs. Modern Concepts and Implications of Treatment’, in Masri Singarimbun Building, MSK UGM, Thursday (28/10).
Atik said that the Javanese consider that colds can occur due to fatigue, rain, cold, heat or temperature changes, stress, lack of sleep, late meal, sleeping on bare floors, as well as being exposed to harsh wind.
Javanese distinguish colds based on the severity of symptoms, the number of symptoms, as well as the difficulty level in the healing process. First, light colds: symptoms are not too severe, there is no vomiting or diarrhea, still able to work an do activities and good appetite although not as good as when he/she is healthy.
Second, heavy colds: colds with diverse and severe symptoms, including vomiting and diarrhea. Third, severe colds that can even cause a sudden death. The sudden death is often preceded by malaise, shortness of breath or over-sweating which people call as the “sitting winds”. "For the Javanese, it is regarded as dangerous because the patients can not generally be helped anymore," she added.
It is in contrast to the medical community that considers the cold is a collection of symptoms such as flu or other disease in which the healing tends to emphasize on the clinical aspect that is independent and separate from cultural elements. "Especially for the “sitting wind”, the paramedics consider it as a vascular disorder that can lead to heart attack," she said.
The Javanese people in dealing with colds use holistic healing, which seeks to restore the balance of gedhe(big) universe (macrocosm) and the cilik(small) world (microcosm), meaning the human attempt to improve social relations, the natural environment, as well as God. "The holistic healing view the human being completely, meaning that the patient is not just a human body that needs to be freed from bacteria or other physical illness," said the Anthropology lecturer of the Faculty of Cultural Sciences UGM.
For the Javanese, the habit of scrubbing, massage, having herbal drinks and carbonated beverages is believed to restore the balance of the individual physically and metaphysically. In fact, after the treatment, the behavior of the Javanese will change and become more submissive, patient, and compliant. This strong belief will be able to accelerate the healing process.
She explained in the holistic healing, apart from the individuals who are treated personally, there are also elements of care, meaning individuals who are unable to care for themselves are helped by others. Here, compassion will arise. Scrubbing also contains elements of mutual help because even if the patient is able to scrub him/herself, but they cannot do that for all parts of the body due to the limited movement of human hand. "Scrubbing showed the nature of mutual help between members of society. Today we help others do the scrubbing, next time other people do it for us. This shows that for the Javanese, life is impossible without the help of others," she said.