Save this content for laterSave this content on your device for later, even while offline Sign in with FacebookSign in with your Facebook account Close

Balinese Hindus await the eruption of Mount Agung, home of a god

By: Alexandra Radu
October 13, 2017 Updated: October 13, 2017 at 5:13 pm
0
photo - The crater of Mount Agung is seen from the top of the volcano. Fifty-four years after its last eruption, scientists believe it is on the brink of another.
The crater of Mount Agung is seen from the top of the volcano. Fifty-four years after its last eruption, scientists believe it is on the brink of another. 
BALI, Indonesia (RNS) — For the first time in 54 years, a volcano is about to erupt on Bali.

Balinese Hindus hold sacred the four volcanic mountains that form Bali’s backbone. They believe that Agung, Batur, Abang and Batukaru are home to the gods and that Mount Agung, the highest of the four mountains at 10,308 feet, is the most sacred.


It is also the one poised to erupt.

More than 140,000 people have been living in temporary shelters provided by the Indonesian government in cooperation with local nonprofits since Sept. 23, when the Indonesian Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center raised the alert status to its maximum level.

Though Indonesia has more Muslims than any nation in the world, its island province of Bali is mostly Hindu, practicing a form of Hinduism that incorporates elements of Buddhism and animism.

Mount Agung (translated as “The Great Mountain”) is believed to be the home of Mahadeva, the supreme manifestation of the deity Shiva. Legend has it that the mountain was formed when the Hindu god Pashupati split Mount Meru, the Hindu axis of the universe, and created Mount Agung from a fragment.

Often dubbed as “the island of a thousand temples,” Bali has more than 10,000 of them.

Pura Besakih, known as the “Mother Temple,” is considered the most important. It is a complex of 23 temples located more than 3,000 feet high on the slopes of Mount Agung. Believed to date back to the 10th century, it has been devoted from its founding to Naga Besukianm or “Shiva’s snake,” the dragon god inhabiting Mount Agung.

Locals see a strong bond between Pura Besakih and the volcano, manifested by three sacred holes — one of which is thought to be connected directly to the crater of Mount Agung.

“These holes were not made by people but by the divine will. With the help of these three holes the pressure of the eruption can dissipate and the mountain will not erupt violently but slow and with a low pressure,” said Dewa Ketut Soma, a Pura Besakih priest.

During Mount Agung’s last eruptions — in the early 1960s, when 1,500 people died — the lava flows came within yards of Pura Besakih. Many Balinese understood this near miss as mercy from the gods, who wanted to show their power but did not want to destroy the holiest of the Balinese worship places.

Although Pura Besakih is within the 7-mile evacuation zone set around the volcano by the Indonesian government, a few priests still carry on prayer ceremonies and make offerings in the temple complex.

“We are doing rituals to pray for safety and avoid a disaster,” said Dewa Ketut Soma. “If the Balinese sincerely pray in their ritual, then Mount Agung will not erupt terribly but with a mild pressure. But if the Balinese ignore the laws of nature, then Mount Agung will be furious and can erupt causing a terrible catastrophe.”

Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Incognito Mode Your browser is in Incognito mode

You vanished!

We welcome you to read all of our stories by signing into your account. If you don't have a subscription, please subscribe today for daily award winning journalism.

Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Subscribe to the Colorado Springs Gazette

It appears that you value local journalism. Thank you.

Subscribe today for unlimited digital access with 50% fewer ads for a faster browsing experience.

Already a Subscriber? LOGIN HERE

Wake up with today's top stories in your inbox

Wake up with today's top stories in your inbox

or
Already a print subscriber?
Already a digital subscriber?
 
This is your last FREE article for the month
This is your last FREE article for the month

Subscribe now and enjoy Unlimited Digital Access to Gazette.com

Only 99 cents for Unlimited Digital Access for 1 month
Then $2.31/week, billed monthly, cancel anytime
Already a print subscriber?
Already a digital subscriber?

 
You have reached your article limit for the month
You have reached your article limit for the month

We hope that you've enjoyed your complimentary access to Gazette.com

Only 99 cents for Unlimited Digital Access for 1 month
Then $2.31/week, billed monthly, cancel anytime
Already a print subscriber?
Already a digital subscriber?

 
articles remaining
×
Thank you for your interest in local journalism.
Gain unlimited access, 50% fewer ads and a faster browsing experience.