Radiant Tree of Evergrowth
23 years ago, Lan Celak asked his Javanese teacher for permission to start his own Kuda Kepang group. He said yes, and blessed it with a name Sri Ulan, loosely meaning Radiant Tree Of Evergrowth. Since then, 45 year old Lan Celak has had 10 children with his wife Ramnah, and grown Sri Ulan to be one of the biggest Kuda Kepang groups in Singapore, with over a hundred members.
Kuda Kepang is a traditional Javanese horse trance dance with a peculiar ritual called Mabuk where the performers connect with spirits in a possessive trance. The larger Muslim community frown upon Kuda Kepang groups calling Mabuk un-islamic for its dealings with the spiritual world. However, Lan Celak considers Kuda Kepang a cultural practice rather than a religious one, and teaches a more controlled and moderated form of trance than other more radical groups. Sri Ulan also strives to provide an enlightened path to wayward youths, steering them away from gang and criminal influences.
Lan Celak and his family of 12 live in a small one room HDB (Housing Development Board) apartment. The entire family indulges in Kuda Kepang dance and music. The humble apartment is also headquarters and community centre for the 100+ members of the Radiant Tree Of Evergrowth.