Warding off lembu Sora’s curse at Indonesia’s Mt Kelud crater
By Aman Rochman The Jakarta Post Sat September 22, 2018
A view of Mount Kelud lake crater at the time around ‘larung sesaji’ procession
KEDIRI, Indonesia – Residents living on the slopes of Mount Kelud observe the tradition of larung sesaji when offerings are laid close to the mountain’s crater.
It is held once a year in the month of Sura according to the Javanese calendar, which falls at the same time as Muharram (the first month of the Islamic calendar).
Larung sesaji has not been observed near the crater since the eruption of Mt Kelud in 2014. For three consecutive years, the ritual was conducted at the foot of the mountain, which is about 1 kilometer from the crater.
This year, residents held the ritual at its original location. Hailing from five villages — namely Sempu, Babadan, Sugihwaras, Pandantoyo and Ngancar — residents observed larung sesaji at the crater on Sunday, which was witnessed by many travelers and visitors.
Resident Suparlan, 68, explained that the offering was in the shape of a cone, which resembles the mountain. The cone is filled with pineapples, taro, jackfruit, bananas, cooked chicken, rice, vegetables and condiments. This offering is in appreciation for the abundance of food, soil fertility and prosperity given by the Creator.
The tradition has been passed on from the residents’ ancestors to ward off bad luck and protect themselves from eruptions. It is also closely linked to folklore depicting Lembu Sora, the powerful former chief of the Mt. Kelud area.
Lembu Sora was said to have been rebuffed when he asked Princess Dewi Kili Suci of the Kediri kingdom to marry him. In anger, Lembu Sora he pronounced a curse that Kediri would be destroyed if Mt. Kelud erupted.
Suparlan said in an effort to ward off the curse, the residents conducted the larung sesaji ritual in the crater’s center to calm the mountain.
The head of the Tourism and Cultural Office in the Kediri regency, Adi Suwignyo, said although offerings could be made again after the eruption, only a limited number of people were allowed to enter the area.
That was why two offerings were prepared for the ritual. One was taken to the crater by a few representatives.
The beauty of Mount Kelud seen from about 1 kilometer away. The mountain is among the primary tourist destinations in Kediri, East Java. Following the 2014 eruption, the closest the visitors can get is 1 km from the mountain crater, as a lava track is being built and the structure is prone to landslides.
Mount kelud crater, the place where Lembu Sora, a rebellious warrior was believed to have lived (JB / Aman Rochman)
Offerings are prepared as symbol of gratitude and effort to ward off bad luck around Mount Kelud (JB / Aman Rochman)
The other offering was carried in a procession from the foot of the mountain to the peak.
“Up until now, the path to Mt. Kelud’s crater is still closed to visitors. The larung sesaji ceremony was therefore conducted at the foot of the mountain, and one of the offerings was carried in a procession to the peak,” said Adi.
The cultural leader of the villages then chanted prayers along with representatives of the Hindu, Catholic and Muslim communities.
At the end of the ritual, residents and visitors partook of the fruit, vegetables and other food from the cone. This activity is believed to bring good luck.
The larung sesaji ceremony on Mt. Kelud is listed in the yearly agenda of the Mount Kelud Festival, which is organized by the Tourism and Cultural Office of the Kediri regency.
An observer looks at the slopes of Mount Kelud from afar.(JB / Aman Rochman)
A resident of Babadan village, Adi Nugraha, 27, said he got pineapples and cakes from the cone and shared it with his friends.
“We always have to make it to the rituals on Mt. Kelud, to seek blessings, prosperity for the family and good luck for our businesses,” he added. (mut)