October 31, 2010

Ring of Fire

Indonesia lies on the "Pacific Ring of Fire", an area that has around 75% of the world's volcanoes. As luck has it, the volcanoes in Indonesia are among the most active ones. Just a couple of months ago, the media in Indonesia was filled with news of Mount Sinabung's eruption. Now, the attention turns to Mount Merapi. This mountain is close to Yogyakarta. On a clear day and from certain spots, you can see this mountain soaring high. I think this is why there is such a strong tie between Merapi and Yogyakarta.

Merapi seen from Yogya
Pic by ~gibrantoz on deviant art (http://gibrantoz.deviantart.com/#/dw3dw5)

Yogyakarta was once a kingdom on its own (with a king (Sultan) and his own court). However, with Indonesia's independence, it agreed to become part of Indonesia as a province with "special" status. Til now, the people are known to still hold and practice the ancient Javanese mystical beliefs and traditions. According to these beliefs, mount Merapi plays a very important role to the extent that it has its own gatekeeper who leads a yearly ceremony called Labuhan. In this ceremony, the Sultan's personal belongings are offered to the mountain.

Regardless of this, Mount Merapi has been revered by many because of its beauty and the fertile soil surrounding it. Millions of photos have been taken of it and many people have climbed its slopes. But with the eruption, the grounds are now covered in ashes
and rescue workers occupy the area to attend the evacuees. A big shout of respect to all.

Pic by ~sisasapigila on deviant art (http://sisapigila.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d2jb800)
Just heard now that Mount Anak Krakatau has also increased its activities in the past days. Pray for Indonesia!

October 2, 2010

October 2nd, Batik Day

"The techniques, symbolism and culture surrounding hand-dyed cotton and silk garments known as Indonesian Batik permeate the lives of Indonesians from beginning to end: infants are carried in batik slings decorated with symbols designed to bring the child luck, and the dead are shrouded in funerary batik."
Indonesian Batik described by UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization)

It has been a year since UNESCO listed Batik as one of the items on its "Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity" list and the batik trend which my friend once said would not last long, seems to still be going on strong in Indonesia.

Just logged on to facebook and saw many of my friends updating their status with invitations of wearing batik today. In the newspaper, store ads announce special discounts for those wearing batik on this day.

And just saw a new product by Attack called Attack Batik Cleaner, a detergent
specially made for washing Batik. Batik needs to be washed carefully to maintain the dye used in batik so that the color doesn't fade quickly. Usually people use lerak (soapberry) to wash their batik (especially the expensive ones), which is quite a hassle. Now that this product is in the market, it will definitely make washing batik much easier. (But why did it have to be a Japanese company who came up with the idea?)

Btw, not only Indonesians are crazy about Batik...check out a few of these celebrities: world-artists-with-their-batik

Happy Batik Day!

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