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Go Pray it on the Mountain

Thousands of Balinese Converge on Mt. Batur to Pray and Dance to Calm a Smoldering Volcano.

(12/11/2010) Thousands of devout Balinese Hindus converged at Bali's Mt. Batur on Sunday, December 5, 2010, to participate in two sacred ceremonies dedicated to preventing a cataclysmic explosion of the still active volcano.

The estimated 6,000 devotees, coming from all corners of Bali, but with many from the nearby village of Songan in Kintamani, climbed the smoking peak to participate in the Wana Kertih and Danu Kertih ceremonies.

The thousands of worshippers overwhelmed the narrow and rough-hewn paths up the peak, preventing more than 1,000 people from climbing the mountain and necessitating they remain on the peak's foothills, participating from a distance in the Wana Kerti ceremony being held at the edge of the smoking caldera.

The elaborate offerings and sacrifices to the mountain began at 7:00 am lasted until 9:00 pm. The ceremony began before dawn in the early morning at the northeast edge of the mountain with prayers at the Pura Bukit Catu temple.

The two ceremonies the Wana Kertih held at the peak of Mount Batur and the Danu Kertih held on the shores of lake Batur - included offerings, ritual prayers and sacred dances.

The arduous and sometimes precarious 1,717 meter climb to the mountain's peak did not dissuade thousand of worshippers, who included an 83 year-old teacher and his wife who managed to make it to the top. The elderly teacher told NusaBali that the deity of the lake, Ida Batara, instilled him with the strength to climb the peak.

Noteworthy during the celebrations held on December 5, 2010, was a sudden rainfall of 10 minutes duration that occurred without warning. Religious observers saw the rain as confirmation that the rituals had received the blessing of the Almighty - Ida Sang Hyang Widi Wasa.

The Wana Kertih ceremony, held at the peak, involved the sacrifice of live goats to the volcano's smoking crater and is intended to ensure cosmic balance is maintained between man, God and nature. In response to recently heightened warnings of dangerous volcanic activity on Mt. Batur, the ceremony, at its most basic level, was intended to forestall any devastating eruption.

According the NusaBali, concurrent ceremonies held on the shores of lake Batur and at the Bale Agung Desa Pakraman Songan were also "blessed" by brief but intense rainfall.