Merapi offerings

The Labuhan Merapi (Merapi offerings) ceremony, Yogyakarta, commemorating the coronation anniversary of Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwana X. Budi N.D. Dharmawan © 2011

The Labuhan Merapi (Merapi offerings) ceremony, Yogyakarta, commemorating the coronation anniversary of Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwana X. Budi N.D. Dharmawan © 2011

Yesterday, 3 July 2011, I went back to the Merapi volcano for an offering ceremony (labuhan) to commemorate the coronation anniversary of the Sultan Hamengku Buwana X, the ruler of the Keraton Yogyakarta kingdom. The ceremony is held annually, so basically there’s nothing special. But this year, it is the first ceremony to hold after the November 2010 eruption, also the first after the spiritual guardian of the volcano, Mbah Marijan, killed in the eruption. He used to lead the ceremony procession. Now his son, Mas Asih, takes over his role.

The original route and ceremonial altar had been damaged by the pyroclastic flows from the past eruption. Some locals and volunteers made a new route and a new altar for the ceremony. The new route is much shorter than the original. The new altar has no pendapa (Javanese patio) as the original one.

The day was clear—and seriously hot. Plus there is no shadowing trees left standing after the eruption. The ceremony was said to start at 6.30, when the procession started to walk from Mbah Marijan’s former house (now gone after the pyroclastic flows) to the ceremonial altar. I arrived a bit late, at 7.00, so I hurried to catch up with the procession. I didn’t miss much since they walked very slowly through narrow hills on Javanese dress. The true problem was finding the right position to photograph the event. The ceremoy was held on a relatively small space on top of a hill below the volcano, but attracted a number of believers and spectators. It wasn’t easy to move around.

The ceremony ended at about 9.00, and the procession walked back to Mbah Marijan’s former house.

P.S.: I am currently preparing to present my work as part of PROJECT|PRESENTATION program, curated by Grace Samboh for the Art Fair Jogja (ART|JOG) 2011. The opening reception of the event is 16 July 2011 at Taman Budaya Yogyakarta.

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