Balinese to hold full moon ceremony asking for safety from volcanic eruption at ‘Mother Temple’ Besakih, despite location inside Agung danger zone

Pura Besakih, Bali’s “Mother Temple.” Photo: Flickr
Pura Besakih, Bali’s “Mother Temple.” Photo: Flickr

A Balinese Hindu ceremony coinciding with the full moon on Thursday will be held at Bali’s largest and holiest temple, Besakih, despite the complex’s position inside the designated danger zone for a possible volcanic eruption from Mount Agung.

Agung, located in Bali’s Karangasem regency, about 75 kilometers from the tourist hub of Kuta, has been on the highest alert level since Sept. 22, feared to erupt any moment now for the first time since 1963Over 144,000 people had evacuated from around the volcano, but those outside of the immediate danger zone were told to go home this past Saturday.

Besakih, Bali’s “Mother Temple,” on the slopes of Agung, falls into the red zone set of nine to 12 kilometers from the crater.

But as long as the volcano doesn’t erupt before Thursday, Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika says those who want to participate in the Purnama Kapat ceremony, marking the fourth full moon of the year on the Balinese Hindu calendar, will press forward. And yes, that includes him.

“I will pray this Thursday at Pura Besakih,” Pastika said.

“If it erupts, then (the ceremony) will not be done there. But for now, we invite for it to be held, as long as it feels safe,” Pastika said on Tuesday, as quoted by Kompas.

Balinese priest Jro Mangku Lingsir Sueca, 79, says that the ceremony is typically not open to the public, but only to those in the Besakih traditional village.

During the full moon ceremony, people will be praying and asking for safety, asking that the volcano’s activity decreases so life can go on as normal, says Sueca.

Though Agung lies inside the red zone, the ceremony will move forward and Hindus around the island should pray themselves, that Agung not erupt, Sueca asserted.

“We still respect that the red zone has been set by the government, but we also have to hold the ceremony at Pura Besakih. Hopefully Hindus will also worship in their places of residence or refuge so that Mount Agung does not erupt,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian Hindu Religious Council (PDHI) Bali Province, is appealing to all Hindus in Bali to pray tomorrow, wherever they are located, during the full moon, whether alone or in groups, at 12pm.

The highest peak on the mountain, Agung holds a special place in the hearts of the Balinese and is regarded as sacred.

A group of Balinese Hindu priests summited the volcano on Friday last week to do some special prayers at the crater and ask the volcano to do no harm.

While a joint, interfaith prayer was held in Denpasar on Saturday, with around 5,000 attendees of Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, and Muslim faiths in attendance.

During Agung’s last eruption in 1963, lava flows narrowly missed Besakih, which many saw as an indication of the temple’s holiness. 

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