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Indonesia’s Tenggerese pray for rain as climate change threatens crops | Climate Crisis News

Indonesia’s Tenggerese pray for rain as climate change threatens crops | Climate Crisis News

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The ancient thanksgiving rituals of the Yadnya Kasada festival have been part of the lives of Indonesia’s Tenggerese people for centuries.

Today, the increasingly unpredictable weather has made seeking divine blessings even more vital for this Hindu farming community.

The Tenggerese live in scores of villages in a national park on Mount Bromo, one of several active volcanoes in Indonesia. The park, popular with tourists, is located near the East Java city of Probolinggo, some 800km (500 miles) south of the capital, Jakarta.

The community has held the festival since the 13th century Majapahit Empire to express their devotion and gratitude to their ancestors and gods.

Carrying items that include vegetables, fruits as well as goats and other livestock, thousands of Tenggerese trek to the top of the 2,329m (7641-foot) Mount Bromo, ending their ritual by hurling offerings into the crater.

During the festival this week many devotees said they hoped it would help improve their livelihood.

“We pray for bountiful land for the year ahead, for the plants to grow healthy,” said Asih, a 64-year-old farmer in Ngadirejo village near Mount Bromo, who like many Indonesians, goes by one name.

Asih said she used to be able to harvest her cabbage farm three times a year, but due to the scarce rains, she can now only manage one harvest.

“When there are no more rains, we cannot grow another cycle of crop,” Asih said. “Now they are parched like this,” she said, pointing to the withered vegetables. “Once they are dried out, the roots will not grow any more.”

Last year, about two-thirds of Indonesia – including all of Java – experienced the most severe dry season since 2019 due to the El Nino weather phenomenon lasting longer than usual and causing drought that hurt crops and worsened forest fires.

While meteorologists expect more rain this year, many farmers are still struggling.

Farmers in Mount Bromo rely on rain and rain-fed lakes for irrigation but the drier weather has forced Irawan Karyoto, 56, to plant less-lucrative spring onions instead of potatoes in his two-hectare (five-acre) plot.

Both Asih and Irawan were part of the procession of Tenggerese who offered prayers at the temple at the base of the volcano. Asih also brought her five-year-old granddaughter.

“To respond to what the Almighty has conveyed through nature, the people must adapt and they should not forget to pray,” said Suyitno, a Tenggerese spiritual leader.

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