Friday, 29 October 2010

The beauty and the beast

The eruption of Mount Merapi brought another misery to Indonesia. Mount Merapi means the mountain with fire. The traditional Javanese believed that Merapi, the Palace, and the South Sea are placed in one straight line. That's the line of the three stages of life. The sea is the underworld, the palace symbolizing the earth-the world where we live, and the mountain is the place for god, goddess, and ancestors' spirits. The Balinese also have the same belief. They are even placing their houses and their temples (pura) in line with this axis.

This picture is taken from

Merapi in its sleep is beautiful, it is one of favourite destinations for trekking. Indonesians who loved to explore the mountain will usually have it in their trekking wish list. Sometimes it became a problem if these trekker climb up while the volcano is in warning status.

(picture taken from here).

Those who climbed this mountain usually knew Mbah Maridjan. He was given the duty from the Jogjakarta Palace to be the gatekeeper of Mount Merapi. He was really loyal to his service, he once said: "Everybody has their duty. Reporter, soldier, police, they have their duty. I also have a duty to stand here". So, he stayed in his village until the mountain came and fetch his soul. He passed away in a praying position. The 1,000-degree Celsius cloud of gas and ashes, known by the local as wedus gembel (named like that because the clouds are so similar to the sheep's curly hair) that came down from Merapi took him away.

(picture taken from this blog).

So beautiful Merapi can turned into a beastful Merapi in hours. Its breath swept away living creatures and burnt them. Perhaps that shows why the Javanese were making more Shiva statues than other Hindu God's statue. They feared Shiva as they took him as the volcano who destroyed but afterward will give more fertile land. They adored the fertility gift while being afraid of his amok...we adore the beauty of Merapi while we are afraid of the beast part of its beauty.

picture googled from this blog.

Interesting articles about Indonesia and Merapi can be read here and here.