A Balinese man has been pictured bathing in cold lava flows amidst a volcanic eruption from Bali’s Mount Agung.
The so-called cold lava flows, or lahars, are mud flows consisting of volcanic ash, rocks, and other debris.
While the lahars coming from Mount Agung don’t necessarily contain toxic chemicals at the moment, authorities have warned local residents to stay away from river channels around the volcano where they’ve formed, as they can be extremely destructive. The flows can travel quickly and effectively bulldoze or bury anything in their paths.
But one Balinese man says he was spiritually compelled to bathe in one flow at Bali’s Unda River in Klungkung regency.
Photos have been circulating of dead fish, apparently suffocated by the ash content in the water, being plucked from the same river by local residents.
The lahar-bathing man was identified as Jero Kuncir Gimbal in a now-viral Facebook post uploaded on Tuesday by Facebook user Putu Artini. Containing seven pictures of the man conducting melukat, a Balinese Hindu cleansing ritual, the man can be seen nearly fully submerged in the flow with only his head showing in one photo, while another shows him laying on his back as if he were casually floating in an infinity pool.
“When I touched it and dipped my feet in, I felt a tremendous energy.
“I had the feeling I had to melukat there,” Gimbal told local newspaper, Tribun Bali.
When going to the lahar, Gimbal says he came across a Balinese priest who claimed to have a vision that he would meet someone seeking to melukat.
“Jero Mangku said maybe I was the one who was invited to do the same within the guidance in his dream. I really wanted to melukat,” Gimbal said.
Gimbal said the current was quite strong in the lahar.
“I was almost swept away,” but he added that he “sensed, whatever happened was the will of the divine.”
Agung, located in Karangasem, about 75 kilometers from the tourist hub of Kuta, started erupting last week when it belched thick ash and steam in a phreatic or steam pressure eruption. Fears for a larger eruption loom as the nature of Agung’s eruptions has shifted from phreatic to magmatic, and ash blown into flight paths has caused the island’s airport to be shutdown for the past three days.