On top of Mount Bromo, an active volcano, the Tenggerese people participate in the annual Yadnya Kasada festival, throwing food, livestock and other treasures into its crater. Down below, villagers wait with nets to catch the valuable goods for themselves.
Words and Photography by Gerard Bosch
The Tenggerese are an ethnic minority, residing around the Tengger Mountains on the island of Java, Indonesia. They mainly practice the Hindu religion including Buddhist and animist elements to their culture, in addition to the cult of ancestors.
Yadnya Kasada is its most important holiday and lasts for about a month. On the fourteenth day of celebration they climb Mount Bromo to make offerings to the Gods of the volcano, such as fruits, vegetables, flowers, rice, tobacco, money and live animals such as chickens and cattle.
The origin of this festival dates back to the kingdom of Majapahit. Roro Anteng, the queen’s daughter, married Jaka Seger, a young man of the Brahminic caste. Unable to have children, they asked the mountain gods for help and granted them 24, on the condition that the twenty-fifth child be sacrificed in the crater of the volcano. The tradition of throwing offerings into the crater to appease the mountain gods continues to this day.
Despite the obvious danger, some Indonesian locals risk their lives descending into the crater to retrieve the offerings thrown by the Tenggerese with nets and handkerchiefs, believing it will bring them good luck.
While this “fight” between the two communities is taking place, the wait and tension is what reigns in the environment. While some wait inside the crater to hunt the Tengger offerings, the Tenggerese wait patiently at the highest point to find the opportunity to throw their offerings and get them to reach the bottom of the volcano without being captured. All this while a multitude of tourists and onlookers observe the scene between a scorching heat and the environment covered with ash and sand.