The Daily Volcano Quote: the angry gods of Bali 7 March 2012Posted by admin in daily volcano quote.
When Java was lost to the Mohammedans 485 years ago, so the legend goes, the disgusted Hindu gods hunted around for a new home. They chose the island of Bali, and since their exalted rank demanded a high dwelling place, they created a chain of mountains. On the most sacred eastern end of the island, the gods erected the highest of Bali’s mountains, the 10,308-foot volcano of Gunung Agung, regarded by the Balinese as “The Navel of the World.” Halfway up the slope of Agung, the pious Balinese built the huge mother temple of Besakih, and every hundred years they have held a solemn rite there to rid the island of ghosts. Last week, in the midst of the once-a-century festival, Agung erupted with catastrophic fury. Agung gave fair warning. Only last month, after more than 100 years of inactivity, it burst forth with a shower of smoke and brimstone that killed 17 persons. There was worried talk on Bali that the gods were angry because the people had not asked permission to hold their festival. But the priests and their disciples stayed on to pray. At 7 o’clock one morning, Agung erupted again. The villages of Sebudi, Sorgah, and Sebih were engulfed by a lethal black cloud of searing 230° ash that roasted hundreds where they knelt. Rivers of grey-black lava boiled over Agung’s southern lip and flowed in fiery rivulets down stream beds, raising clouds of steam; heavy rains, possibly caused by the heat of the volcano, mixed with the sulphurous ash to form an acid that killed plant life for miles around.
‘Bali: the gods speak’, Time, 29 March 1963, p. 26. The eruption of Agung described here took place on 17 March 1963 and was a VEI5 event, one of the largest volcanic eruptions of the twentieth century. Approximately 1500 people were killed and widespread devastation was caused by pyroclastic flows and lahars. The Mother Temple of Besakih, however, survived the eruption.
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