MOUNT BROMO AND SECRETS AMONG WORSHIPERS
WHERE ARE THE BORDERS BETWEEN PEOPLE’S LANDS AND GOD’S LANDS?
The world is full of pictures,colored by hopes, broken by fears, divided by misunderstanding and again (re)united by compassion. There are so many places which we will never visit but we will still have them clear in our minds, feeling their beauty and admiring their unique identity. However, there are also those places which are mysterious and will never be revealed to our human eyes and souls, remaining in the shadow of myths for eternity. We will sail there in our thoughts but sometimes we are lost in them and sometimes we are lost with them, in their darkness.
People believe in many things, depending on religious or traditional background. Sometimes, there is a clash between to believe or not to believe, between being modern and being back-warded. The civilization range is so wide but still so limited when it comes to controversial differences and usually the common sense fail to understand the bizarre rituals all over but not enough determinate to stop them and send to history. The soul of the humanity is lost in diversity which is not coherent. Unfortunately, innocent pay the worst price of misunderstood Gods and fake Devils.
The breathtaking Indonesia. It is known as natural beauty pearl, with more than 17,000 islands, from hidden islets to the awesome Sumatra, the rich diversity is glued on more than 1,9 million sq km and makes this country being stretched from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific. So many volcanic mountains, dreaming waterfalls, deep tropic jungles, dangerous wildlife and friendly residents. The tourist tips are enough inviting so anyone would love to be there, experiencing the Indonesia unique adventure.
Behind the Indonesian spiritual and natural overwhelming charm, there are many social and political as well as religious consequences which are implemented in such a way that most of us wouldn’t like to challenge it personally. The media restriction, system of deep corruption, human rights abuse, poor animal welfare and even very high level of animal cruelty are those negative points what could turn our bright picture of Indonesia into blurred one.
The growing population of Indonesia is 249,9 million people according to data from 2013 and considering that number, we must consider also the one rich mosaic of religious and ethnically groups. The Indonesian Constitution by itself guarantees freedom of religion but the official goverment recognizes only six religions: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism.We must not forget that each religion has its own set of rules and customs so speaking about one and universal religious rule of Indonesian heart is impossible. I find it better to conclude that many different pulses of believes beat in one circle, with more or less imbalance.
When I was getting myself involved into researching different and almost always odd traditions, from my point of view, I have never thought that there is no end of my surprises, but unfortunately always negative. I do not judge to anyone anywhere but I do feel sad when human traditions oppose to humanity and when people ceremonies cause animal cruelty. At that moment, I do not believe in God or Satan but in good and evil. The evil symbolized in man, homo sapiens, one gifted by soul or probably by cursed soul for eternity.
The Yadnya Kasada Festival is one of those festivals which will intruig you with its mystical elements but also will shock you with its sacrificial parts. When Lonely Planet describes the legend behind the Mount Bromo, all sounds like an adventures movie produced in Hollywood. When it comes to the anthropological study offered by National Geographic, with blood and pain moments, the whole portrait of angry volcano and frightened believers give us another feeling, to not welcome it.Everything about this festival is connected with the Tenggerese people as an ethnic minority located in eastern Java which is convinced that they are descendants of the Majapahit princes. There are about 90,000 Tengger people who are all around villages in Mount Bromo volcano region.Those people profess Hinduism what is rather mixed with Buddhism and Animism than it is pure. They worship Ida Sang Hyang Widi Wasa (“Big Almighty Lord”), but they do also cherish Shiva, Brahma, Vishnu and Buddha in special holy places of worship, known as Punden, Poten and Danyang. The Poten is maybe the most famous since it is sacred area of ground at Mountain Bromo’s Sand sea so it opens the annual The Yadnya Kasada Festival. This community holds on ancestor worship:“They include cikal bakal, the spirits of the founders of the village, the roh bahurekso, the village guardian spirits and the roh leluhur, the spirits of the ancestors. Rituals to propitiate these spirits are conducted by special priests. During these rites little doll-like figures representing the spirits are clothed in batik cloth and are presented with food and drink. It is believed that the spirits partake of the essence of these offerings. The Bromo volcano is considered one of the most sacred places. If it erupts, they believe that their god is very angry.”
The central happening is with no doubt controversial Yadnya Kasada which lasts about a month. On the 14th day of the Kasada, these people go to their holy place, Poten Bromo to ask for blessings the God of the Mountain (Mount Semeru).They do bring offers which is very typical for Hinduism but the offers depend of the status of the worshiper. They often bring rice, fruit, vegetables, flowers but also farm animals and all they consider as useful to bring God’s mercy. The new spiritual leader also passes the exam to be chosen as a Number One in Tengger tribe so it could be said that all important community’s events are around and about Yadnya Kasada:“The origin of this festival is a legend which dates back to the Majapahit kingdom, during the reign of King Brawijaya, in which the queen of the Kingdom gave birth to a daughter named Roro Anteng, who married Jaka Seger, a young man from the Brahmin caste.According to the legend, Roro Anteng and Jaka Seger were among many others who fled from the already tattering Majapahit kingdom during the 15th century, when the declining kingdom was already in a brink of collapse while the rapid spread of Islam in Java has begun. The couple with their followers later settled in the Tengger mountains and ruled the region jointly under the title Purbawisesa Mangkurat Ing Tengger. Tradition holds belief that they are ancestors of modern Tengger people.” Based on legend, Anteng and Seger were blessed with 25 children but they sacrificed their youngest child Kesuma into the crater of the volcano, to cherish His blessings. Since then, sacrifice unto the mountain god is a part of Tengger identity, the sign of their existence.
The people who bring offers do usually that after they make prayers. Inside the volcano crater are those people who do not have anything so they use this chance to catch the offers and feed themselves. This is very dangerous because of toxic air inside the crater but many of them wear masks hoping they will have enough luck to catch the chicken, goat or even cattle thrown away from above, from those who sacrifice their livestock unto Volcano God, for better prosperity. The cow is specially important and sacred into the Tengger Hindus society and for those who are trying to catch the offers, the most valuable gift. They do not try to get to the offers only because of economical use but also for spiritual meaning. Inside Volcano crater offer catchers believe they will also catch the good luck with the offer.
Although there is no human sacrifice, animal sacrifice is still the part of this Festival more than it should be accepted. The farm animals are often abused into any religious ceremony or worshiping process but that becomes the sad picture of the humanity. Animals are emotional living beings what feels the pain as we feel and throwing them away into the volcano crater in the name of religion is equality to madness in 21st century.
The animals arent things we use and abuse, then destroy. They are also emotional living creatures and they dont know how to hate. They came on this Earth long before we did and they have all rights to be here without people messing with them and deciding about their destiny. That is a failure of spirituality and humanity and as far as I know, religion should teach us to love and to protect weaker not to hate and to kill those we are supposed to take care of, just for the sake of our imagined Gods and their anger nature.
The animal sacrifice nowadays sounds like one retrospective punch in the civilization face. No reason for it at all. People must accept the fact that they do not own anything but themselves so they have no right to kill for their Gods, even if that is one small chicken. They didnt give life so they mustn’t be able to take it away.
This Tengger Festival is one of many around the world where we catch the animal cruelty and lost compassionate. At the moment they throw their animals away into the volcano crater, those people throw away also their moral and ethic values and everything what make them humans. They become monsters who are afraid from their thundering Gods.
Lost in the mist of volcano secrets, the last Tengger is offering his small chicken, hoping for blessings. He is not aware how is he already cursed with never ending grudge of being dead soul.