The Bromo Caldera with the Mount Semeru in the background, part of the Tengger massif
The Tengger volcanic complex which includes the caldera of the Mount Bromo (Gunnung Bromo in Indonesian) and the Mount Semeru, is probably one of the most seen pictures of the Indonesian volcanoes. Its large size and the spectacular scenery which surrounds the volcano, with the Mount Semeru in the backgroung explain why it is the symbol of the Indonesian volcanoes landscape.
Mount Bromo attracts both tourists, and Tanggereses (local Indonesians living in the region).
The sunrise on the Bromo, between five and six o'clock, when the temperature is between 0 and 5°C is a must for tourists.
The Yadnya Kasada ceremony
The Tenggereses are climbing once a year the Mount Bromo for the Kasada which is a popular annual ritual to celebrate ancestors.
At dawn the procession of Yadnya Kasada commenced, marking the 12th month of the Tenggerese calendar (in 2008 it was September 16, and in 2009 it is September 6.)
At the Pura Luhur Poten Temple compound, situated 2,390 meters above sea level at the foot of Mt Bromo, the slow beat of Javanese drums blended with traditional hymns to create a mystical atmosphere while Tengger Hindu elders arrived wearing colorful attire.
Inside the temple goats, chickens and heaps of unhusked rice, fruit and vegetables were ready to be sacrificed. At the peak of the thanksgiving ceremony, the offerings were to be thrown into the crater of the mountain as stipulated by tradition.
Shamans representing all 37 Tenggerese villages opened the ceremony by sitting together on the temple floor and uttering magic words and prayers in thanks to the Creator for giving them long lives.
Once the thanksgiving ceremony was completed, a new shaman was officially sworn in. A newly inaugurated shaman is expected to assume new tasks in order to protect residents and lead by example through his behavior.
The shaman main task is to preside over daily tribal rituals and to help cure the sick in their territory. He is also authorized to preside over a marriage ceremony, family rituals and prayers for ancestors. Asked about the Yadnya Kasada ritual, the shaman said the ceremony was the expression of harmony between human beings and the Creator. Through this, the Tenggerese community expressed their thanks for the Creator and his gift to them of long life.
Following the swearing-in of the new shaman, the sacrifices were carried 2 kilometers to the crater of the symbolic mountain.
As the sun rose, shamans performed a mass prayer calling for the Creator to bless the offerings before they were thrown into the crater, whereby onlookers rushed forward to receive the sacrifice and bless their future.
Around 10,000 local and foreign visitors climbed the mountain. Pilgrims wished not only to witness the event, but also to seek blessings for their lives through this sacred celebration.
According to Tengger legend, Kasada was inherited from their ancestors who were royal descendants of the Majapahit kingdom in the 14th century. The ruling king Brawijaya had his daughter Roro Anteng married to Joko Seger, a descendent of Brahmana.
When Islam spread across Java, many Hindu followers fled to Bali while others relocated to the mountainous area near Mt Bromo under the royal pair's leadership.
After unsuccessfully trying to have children, the pair retreated to the jungle and asked the Creator for assistance in conceiving. Their request was granted with the sole condition that their youngest was to be offered as a live sacrifice to a god at the mountain's crater.
After having 25 children, the pair hid them inside a cave in an attempt to evade sacrificing their youngest, Raden Kusuma. One day a flash fire drove the children out of the cave and led the youngest to the crater, triggering rumors the sacrifice to Ida Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa was at last going to take place.
Prior to the sacrifice, Raden Kusuma sent a message to all citizens to live peacefully and dedicate their lives to God. Another term was that they annually perform the thanksgiving ceremony at the 12th month, or kasada, of the year by throwing part of their harvest down the crater. (Source: From The Jakarta Post )