An 83-year-old man entrusted to watch over the spirit of Mount Merapi by appeasing it’s fiery vengeance by tossing rice, chickens and flowers into the gaping crater has died.
Maridjan, the spiritual keeper, was killed, along with dozens of villagers, because they all believed that the Volcano wasn’t as dangerous as thought. As the volcano Merapi began spewing 1,800-degree gases and thousands of people evacuated down the mountain’s slopes, Maridjan refused to budge. His home was located deep in the evacuation zone, just four miles from the crater and body was found there in an Islamic prayer position, caked in heavy white soot.
An Indonesian Red Cross volunteer had been trying to persuade him to leave.
“I never thought he was going to leave us in such a way,” said Prabukusumo, whose brother, the sultan in the nearby court city of Yogyakarta, is now tasked with choosing Maridjan’s successor. “He’s lived through so many, much bigger eruptions. I’m still in shock.”
On Thursday, politicians, soap opera stars and singers were among hundreds of people who flocked to Maridjan’s funeral on the fertile slopes of the mountain entrusted to his care by a late king. Televisions crews and reporters jostled for position with family and friends, who reached to touch the white silk-covered coffin as it was carried to the grave (via Asia Telegraph).
Merapi in one of the world’s most active volcanoes and is located on the so-called “Ring of Fire.” Maridjan was no stranger to the valcano, having been named “key holder” of the mountain, inheriting the position from his father, at age 50. For 33 years, he led ceremonies meant to hold back Merapi’s lava flows and quiet the spirits. Sadly, his end came when he didn’t listen to local authorities when it came to determining danger levels. Villager are now wondering who will replace him.