Nyi Seppo, The Madurese Female Educator (Knowing Nyai Siti Maryam)

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ALMOST EVERY day, there are always guests who visit the ndalem. Some just want to meet Mbah Nyai Siti Maryam or Nyi Seppo, which means Nyai Sepuh (after Mbah Kiai Ahmad Jazuli, her husband, Mbah Nyai was the only elder in the boarding house). Some asked for prayer, some asked for advice, some sent students to boarding houses. There are also those graduated students. Mbah Nyai always received all the guests happy, no matter how many people visited or how tired she was. All of them were met with smiling faces and incomparable hospitality. “Kaule sanausa gerre manabi bede tamoy pas sehat rassana. Kaule cek sennenga manggiin tamuy.” said Mbah Nyai in Madurese, which more or less means: “Even when I’m sick when I have guests, I feel like I’ll get better immediately. I love to accompany guests.”

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Mbah Nyai never refused anyone who came to visit. All guests are always met and respected, no matter how tired or how busy. She also never discriminated against who the guests were. Distant guests, near guests, rich, poor, male, female, old, young all received the same hospitality.


In Madurese custom, generally, guests who are sowan to the Kiai are usually separated. Male guests are met by men, and female guests are met by women. However, if you go to Mbah Nyai, both male and female, all are accepted by Mbah Nyai, regardless of gender. When asked why she also met male guests and even shook hands with male guests, Mbah Nyai replied that all of them were considered her children, so it was not a barrier for her to meet her own children.

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