Monday, November 8, 2010

Java's Merapi And Its Green Lady

Merapi is being associated with Mbah Marijan. But to associate Merapi with Nyai Gadung Melati too? Who is Nyai Gadung Melati

Channel News Asia did interview Mbah Marijan and I happened to watch the programme when it was shown - on October 26, the Tuesday that he was found dead, buried under Merapi's ash.
His life is believed to have been snapped instantly by the 1,000-degree Celsius cloud of gas and ash.  
His responsibility as Merapi's gatekeeper led to his refusal to evacuate the October 26 eruption and his body was found in a praying position. He died still honouring his words as Merapi's gatekeeper - with responsibility well intact. 
As he had said in 2006, "Everybody has their duty. Reporter, soldier, police, they have their duty. I also have a duty to stand here".
The Yogyakarta Palace, where he was a chosen palace servant (hamba dalem) there, was said that the palace had 'known long before it happened that Mbah Marijan would be taken by Merapi'.

The late Mbah Marijan is a well respected man who lived only about 5 kilometres (3m) from Merapi's peak in his home village of Kinahrejo.
The Merapi's folks believe the late Mbah Marijan had the ability to communicate with the Merapi's 'unseen beings'.
They believed he would be warned in a vision if an eruption was imminent.

The late Mbah Marijan is known for his dedication and loyalty to the king.
He was a chosen palace servant (abdi dalem) for the Yogyakarta Sultanate in 1970 by Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX and was named Mas Penewu Suraksohargo by the sultan.
His duty was, as an assistant to his father who was the then Merapi's gatekeeper until the father's death on March 3, 1982, when Mbah Marijan became the official Merapi's gatekeeper.
He spoke using refined 'palace' (Kraton) language - always soothing to the ears.

For Yogyakarta Sultanate, Merapi holds a significant cosmological symbolism, because it is forming a sacred north-south axis line between Merapi peak and Southern Ocean (Indian Ocean).
Merapi peak is a sacred axis - according to Javanese ancestral belief - the axis runs along Malioboro street to Northern Alun alun (square) across Yogyakarta's Kraton, and to the southern Alun-alun, all the way to Bantul -  Bantul's batiks  had been considered as world heritage by the UN.
The Sultan of Yogyakarta, Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX for now, is the leader of the Javanese kingdom.

Because of the history that goes way back before Islam came to the country, even though Indonesia is acknowledged as a republic country, Yogyakarta , or Solo to some, is always a 'special state' (D.I.Y - Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta) to the Indonesians, especially the Javanese.

Mount Merapi is located in Indonesia
Mount Merapi

Merapi, which elevates on the main Java island, plays a great role in Javanese way of life, beliefs and livings - its more than just a volcanic mountain - Merapi is a special Javanese heritage and the heritage is a living thing too - it breathes - smoke can be seen emerging from the mountaintop almost all year round.
Merapi, being the youngest in a group of volcanoes in southern Java, is growing.
And as any growing human, a massive lava dome 'formed its height' near the tip of Merapi's crater.

As human who has to be look after, and whose body temperature undergoing subtle changes when not feeling well, so is Mount Merapi - It breathes, it grows, it sneezes, it coughs, it clears its phlegm, it sleeps and now it has awakened! - Not eruption -  Experts monitoring Merapi's awakening were reported as being 'baffled' despite earlier predictions that the earlier eruptions following the initial blast in the earlier weeks would ease pressure of building up behind a magma dome.


Mbah Marijan was surprised when Nyai Gadung Melati did appear in his dream. 
Something BIG is going to happen???
Only GOD knows, but it is not a good sign as Nyai Gadung Melati would occasionally appears in dreams of some 'selected' Merapi's villagers - to warn them of the coming Merapi's eruption. 
Mount Merapi and all mountain that matter, need to be pleased, need to be look after. 

Nyai Gadung Melati is fourth in line to Merapi unseen monarchy headed by King Kiyai Merapi. 
These 'unseen beings' to the naked eyes, made of fire by THE CREATOR, has its palace (Kraton) in Merapi's crater.  
Kiyai Merapi's main man, Kiyai Sapu Jagad, holds the key to the volcano and its pending eruption - but all eruption is not without its own mystical origins - mankind contributed to the factor too.  
Third in line is Kiyai Megantara, in charge of weather and the surroundings.  

Merapi has nine 'unseen guardians' and Nyai (Lady) Gadung Melati ( Leaf Green), the fourth, is in charge of merapi's environment - vegetations and animals - with staff of hundreds of ladies, are said all dressed in green - and their main duty is to look after Merapi's greeneries and fertility. 

Nyai  Gadung Melati is assisted too by Ada Kartadimeja - overseeing livestocks and always appear in common Merapi villagers' dreams about the coming eruption and steps that need to be taken.
The villagers living on Merapi's slopes rely on natural signs rather than official orders - usually they heeded not government warnings of evacuation, but the advice of the mountain’s official 'gatekeeper'. 
Or, they dream of Ada Kartadimeja, or some fortunate ones would dream of Nyai Gadung Melati.
Beside dreams, the villagers too, will always be on the look out for lightning around Merapi's peak, thundering clouds and days of ash raining down, or animals unusual activities and these animals' moving down the Merapi's slopes.

All mountains in Java islands are the dwelling places of the 'unseen beings' - so is Mount Merapi.
Their dwelling places and the surroundings need to be acknowledged, should not be disturbed - and the local folks knew that pretty well.
Unnecessary forest clearing is strictly forbidden!!!
Shifting or looting of forests' possessions have its consequences.

Javanese folks are known for their choicest of words, lest these words are offending to the ears, not only to mankind, but to the 'unseen beings' too - These 'unseen beings' hear and understand the conversations of human beings around them, and they just know how it is to be hurt.
These 'unseen beings' live with mother nature, appreciate mother nature, and they expect the same harmony living with us, human beings - not relieving ourselves - anywhere human beings assumed all-right, no eyes seeing them.
Not anywhere, any place in the forest is a relieving place. Some places up the mountain is sacred too. 

Local folks know and understand what should and should not be done, but not outsiders - and this seemed to anger Nyai Gadung Melati.
She feels ashamed, she feels hurt with them, seeing their abhor characters.

In 2004, the Ministry of Forestry declared a 6,410 hectares national park around Mount Merapi - the local residents were baffled.
During the 2006 Merapi 'awakened', local residents were reluctant to leave fearing their residences would be confiscated for further expansion of the national park.

Despite the devastation, lives lost and homes destroyed, Merapi's dwellers accept their fate - it's DIVINE retribution. 
The spate of recent disasters are warning signs to those who are out of touch with nature and not keeping and honouring their positions which they had promised to shoulder.

Indonesia, with 220 million people, which Muslims being the majority, greatly believe the 'unseen beings' - either in religious context or by way of ancestral belief: The spiritual past and an unseen kingdom that exists in Merapi's crater.

After thousands of years living dangerously, and Islam being the religion of most Javanese, it is hard to shed off the mythology and belief alongside the majority's religious believe. 

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