Indonesian Hindus gather for mass prayer in Palu for earthquake-tsunami recovery

PHDI Central Sulawesi secretary I Ketut Suarayasa M takes a selfie at a mass Hindu prayer in Palu. Photo via Bali Post/Istimewa

Hindus in the devastated Indonesian city of Palu gathered to pray for recovery for the earthquake and tsunami stricken city.

Praying en masse at Pura Agung Wana Kertha Jagatnatha Palu over Tilem, the Hindu new moon ceremony was held on Tuesday morning. This was reportedly the first mass group prayer after the twin natural disasters hit Palu and Donggala.

The condition of the temple was pretty rough, reflecting the damage the area has suffered from the 7.5 quake and subsequent tsunami that hit on Sept. 28, which has gone on to claim over 1,700 lives and displace thousands more. Around 5,000 are still believed to be missing, according to Indonesia’s disaster agency.

The prayer was attended by I Nengah Wandra, the head of the Central Sulawesi chapter of Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia (PHDI), Indonesia’s leading authority on Hinduism, as well as other administrators from the organization.

Although the ceremony was meant for the new moon, participants said they chose to conduct it in the morning for security reasons, to “avoid undesirable outcomes” from leaving their property unattended at night, reports Bali Post

Reports of looting have been widespread since the twin disasters hit.

While the province of Central Sulawesi is predominantly Muslim, there is a small Hindu population, including students, officials, and others who have settled there.

This is far from the first time Indonesia’s Hindus have appealed to the power of prayer in the midst of natural disaster. Last year, as Mt. Agung was acting up in Bali, the island’s Hindus similarly gathered for Tilem to try and prevent the volcano from further eruptions. This was later followed by a massive interfaith prayer, joined by Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and Christians alike.

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