Indonesian Hindus urge Holistic approach toward environmental problems

via Hindu followers urge holistic approach toward environmental problems-Jakartha Post published on December 12, 2007

DENPASAR (JP): Hundreds of local Hindus attended the Agni Hotra sacred fire ritual Monday evening at Puputan Badung square in downtown Denpasar, hoping to remind climate change conference delegates in Bali that environmental problems needed more than just material answers.

“A material approach is important. For instance, when deforestation takes place, you have to plant more trees to offset the environmental damage,” said ritual coordinator, I Made Dwija Nurjaya.

“However, the magnitude of the environmental problems we are currently facing certainly can not be solved solely with material approaches,” he stressed.

He urged conference delegates to devise an holistic approach, which integrates the material with spiritual approaches, to give a comprehensive answer to the crisis that threatens the future of mankind as well as the sustainability of the earth.

“Through this ritual we want to inspire the delegates that spiritual approaches could be used to transform the human’s paradigm of thought, from one that promotes exploitation and material fulfillment, to one that promotes a compassionate relationship with other beings and creatures in this world,” Made said.

The Agni Hotra is an ancient Hindu ritual believed to possess curative properties to the participants as well as to its natural surrounding.

In the past few years, this ritual has been gaining many followers among the Balinese Hindus. Previously, the ritual was only practiced by Indian Hindus.

The ritual is usually held twice a day; at sun rise and sun set.

During the ritual, participants surrounded a raised brick structure that housed a holy fire fuelled with a range of incense, dried herbs, twigs from medicinal trees and dried cow dung.

Sacred mantras were repeatedly chanted by the participants who at several points in the rituals threw rice grains into the fire.

The Agni Hotra ritual was led by Bheru Baba. Meanwhile, a traditional Balinese Hinduism purification ritual was led by highpriest Ida Pandita Mpu of Siangan and his protege Ida Pandita Mpu Paramadaksa Nata Ratu Bagus.

“There is also a traditional ritual from the followers of Sunda Wiwitan, the indigenous belief system in West Java. This is a collaborative ritual from several belief systems that share one thing in common: a profound respect for nature,” Hindu high priest Ida Pedanda Sebali Tianyar Arimbawa said.

Sebali Tianyar Arimbawa is the chairman of the influential Council of Highpriests of the Indonesian Hindu Parisadha. (I Wayan Juniartha)

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