Authentic rituals of Indonesia: Dialogue between heaven and earth




people climb the ladder to the top of the volcanoThe gods in Indonesia are quite solid leaders of the destinies of people living on myriad of islands in the Pacific and Indian oceans. They are revered, loved and respected, and every serious event interprets as a divine will, whether it is a rich harvest or an epidemic menace.
Indonesia is a country where traditions and rituals are not just a fascinating attraction for tourists, but a centuries-old heredity that the islanders preserve as a memory of ancestors and for communicating with the gods. One of the most multinational countries, Indonesia has united several hundred nationalities with its way of life.

tenger people waiting for ceremony

Tengarian man on the background of a volcano

local people with offerings for the volcano

people throw all kinds of things into a volcano to bring a gift to the gods

Among them, Tenger people are distinguished – a small nation – up to 100 thousand people living in Java, in the isolated area of the Tenger caldera. Nearby is the famous picturesque volcano Bromo, which periodically shows bad temper.
Tengers, clamped by a ring of Indonesian Muslims, continue to defend their cultural roots, professing Hinduism with the influences of animism and Buddhism. Despite the cultural pressure of the people of the Islamist Madurians, the Tengers live according to their principles, and consider themselves descendants of the legendary princes of Majapahit, the kingdom of the golden age of Indonesian civilization.

the ministers of the churches conduct their rituals

One of the main rites of a small nation is the ritual of Upacara Kasada, the sacral agreement between prince of Majapahita and the gods. Pious and conservative Tengers annually honour this tradition, attracting to this unusual ceremony both other Indonesians and tourists. According to legend, the royal couple asked the gods for the children, and they gave them twenty-five offspring and instructed prince to give the last of them to volcano. The father and mother could not kill their son, so gods became angry and took the child, threatened to erupt the volcano. To calm them, royal children promised to honour the gods with a ceremony at the crater of the volcano annually.

people waiting for their turn to bring a gift to the volcano

a local man smokes on the edge of a volcano crater

people pray and meditate

evening view of the valley of the volcano BromoThis ceremony is the part of the festival Upacara Kasada, which takes place every twelfth month of the year according to Hindu calendar and in the tenth month according to the Javanese calendar. Many thousands of people attend this event. On the day of Uppsar Kasad, a huge crowd of believers gather in the temple of Pura Luhur Poten, ask for mercy and divine blessing and after that they go to the crater of Bromo, sacrificial place. Someone is riding up in a jeep, someone using horses, and someone – just walking. Some people are dressed in expensive clothes, someone prefers a simple dress, but the important thing is that clothes should be warm.

livestock before sacrifice to a volcano

view from the cave where people pray

local Muslims in anticipation of the gifts that the Hindus bring to the volcanoThe spectacle of the ceremony is unforgettable, noisy and colourful. At the top of the volcano people sing traditional songs, read mantras, music of traditional Javanese drums all night along. The fun ends at midnight, and it is time to dive into the prayer trance, which helps to understand yourself. Fruits, animals, grains and money used as an offering. The rite ruled by the Brahmans, who are responsible for spiritual enlightenment and the discovery of divine secrets told them by the gods.

solemn ceremony of bringing gifts to the god Brahma

But the course of the ceremony doesn’t go without gloomy moments. Few Muslims of Java, disrespectful of the traditions of Hindus, often gathers lower on the slopes of the crater, trying to caught offerings with special woven meshes. Such a risky occupation often turns into a tragedy - every year some of this «offer hunters» stumble and fall into the crater, where they die from toxic fumes and heat.
This important holiday is just one of numerous large and small traditions. Tengers are the most radical Hindus among the Indonesian people. Anyone who appreciate unique cultures should visit this beautiful place.

Video - Victoria Antyushina

Photo - Agung Paramessvara

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