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Soothsayers Sought to Predict Eruption: Mount Kelud, East Java

With volcanologists apparently unable to determine the exact day Mount Kelud will erupt, villagers in the area have turned to local mystics and soothsayers for their opinions. While their predictions have been varied, they do all seem to agree on one thing: The mountain will erupt in the next seven days.

An elder of Sugihwaras village, Mbah (a Javanese honorific used to address a revered, older person) Mulyasih, 62, carefully prepared 12 cups of hot coffee on Wednesday afternoon.

The coffees (and a pack of cigarettes) were for the unseen spiritual guardian of the mountain. Once a week, she travels the 10 kilometers to the crater and offers them to it.

She says the ritual has enabled her to open a special communication channel with the spirit, which alerts her when something is about to happen. She addresses it as “Den Bagus“, which translates into English as “handsome person”.

“I still haven’t received any sign from Den Bagus Kelud that the mountain will erupt. Previously, I have always received a sign — an unseen spirit whispered it into my heart,” she said.

“As long as the villagers still live in the shelters, as long as the police still guard the peak, then it won’t erupt. It shall erupt the moment the villagers return to their homes and the police officers leave their posts,” she said.

Indra Harsaputra (Jakarta Post)