Balinese Hindus have been conducting a number of ceremonies at Mt. Agung, trying to prevent a deadly eruption from the volcano, while Muslims across the island have been getting together and likewise praying that the island is spared from a great natural disaster.
Agung, a volcano located in Karangasem, Bali, has shown increased activity with its alert status getting upgraded two times in the past week. Agung is currently at level III standby status. Local residents living near the volcano have been evacuated–the number is nearing 1,300–in anticipation of a possible eruption. To make everyone a little more tense, a 5.7 earthquake was detected in the Java Sea, northwest of Bali, on Wednesday night, triggering a tsunami warning.
Agung, the highest peak on the island, holds a special place in the hearts of Balinese. The volcano is regarded as sacred and is often the site of religious ceremonies.
Late on Wednesday, a Tilem — or new moon — ceremony was conducted by Balinese Hindu communities around the island, while a larger ceremony was also held at Bali’s mother temple, Besakih, on the slopes the volcano. The ceremony at Besakih was held by the provincial government of Bali. The governor, Made Mangku Pastika was even present.
After the ceremony and the ensuing procession, the governor said the importance was to request safety from the threat of a catastrophic eruption from the volcano.
The governor said he encourages people of all religions to pray that Agung does not erupt.
“Today, I can report that the activity of Mt. Agung decreased. Hopefully tomorrow will decrease as well. If it continues to decline, then we can be calm and avoid a state of emergency,” Pastika said on Wednesday, as quoted by Merdeka.
As for Muslims in Bali, the Islamic New Year fell on Thursday this week, so prayers on the special holiday were geared towards stopping the volcano as well. Thousands gathered at the Bajra Sandhi monument in Renon, Denpasar on Thursday afternoon for a joint prayer.
“In addition to celebrating the Islamic New Year, we also prayed for the residents of Karangasem to be safe and not affected. We know that the current status of Mt. Agung is on alert,” said Ninik Surani, the head of Islamic Education for the Department of Religious Affairs in Denpasar.
Surani, who led Thursday’s prayer, said the community also raised funds for Karangasem residents who have had to evacuate.
“There are 16,000 people who followed the prayer,” Surani said.
“Most importantly, we pray for the island of Bali to be safe and have no disaster.”