Mbah Marijan, The Loyal Guardian of Mt Merapi

Mbah Marijan was born in 1927, in Kinahrejo, Umbulharjo, Cangkringan, Sleman, Yogyakarta. He married to Ponirah, and they have 10 children, 5 of them died, 11 grandchildren and 6 great grand cgildren. Mbah Marijan’s children alive are Panut Utomo (50), Sutrisno (45), Lestari (40), Sulastri (36), and Widodo (30).

In 1970 Mbah Marijan was promoted as abdi dalem of Keraton Kasultanan Yogyakarta and Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX gave him a new name : Mas Penewu Suraksohargo I. Mbah Marijan was promoted as Mantri, assisted his father who was the guardian of Mt Merapi. When he was an assistant of guardian, he often led labuhan ritual on Mt Merapi summit. After his father died, on March 3rd 1982, Mbah Marijan was promoted as the guardian of Mt Merapi. As abdi dalem of Mt Merapi of Keraton Yogyakarta, Mbah Marijan showed high loyalty balues. Though Mt Merapi was erupting, he did not want to be evacuated.

In 2006, Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono X asked Mbah Marijan to evacuate. Mbah Marijan was firm with his decision to stay in Merapi Area though Merapi showed its massive activity. He even did ritual there. Many believed the 2006 eruption could not get worse because he had stayed there. At that time, he had led a procession of about 100 people, circling nearby villages three times, covering a distance of 54 kilometers in silence. Residents also made offerings like apem (rice flour cakes) to appease angry spirits on the mountain.And Merapi, took 2 lives (only). In 2010 Merapi showed its powerful activity again, he refused to move. He died on 27 October 2010, in his house, by the hot cloud of Mt Merapi. He was found in sujud, kneeling position with his  face on the floor praying, covered with debris from collapsing walls and trees in one of the rooms in his house, which was badly damaged by the hot spew.

People remember him as humble and humorous person. Once when President Yudhoyono would visit Merapi, on that day Mbah Marijan went to the top of Merapi to do his duty as he had thing to do. When a messenger from Ministry of Environment asked him to go with him to Jakarta for an award giving to him. Mbah Marijan smiled at that time and said

“Well, I am an old man. I am not able to go too far,to Jakarta. But if i am awarded, it will be easier if the award is brought here, won’t it? So I don’t have to travel to Jakarta, as in Jakarta I will only receive an award you would give me. Isn’t it easier?”

Or when he was invited by Germany Govt to see the opening of World Cup 2006. He said “ I don’t want to go. I am just a common person, I do not know anything. I wear flip flop, my flip flop will be lost (in the crowd)” . That invitation was delivered by a German journalist as asked by Munich Mayor and accommodation, all documents would be provided by the govt. But the journalist could not meet him as Mbah Marijan was heading to Mt Merapi summit with hoe on his shoulder. But meeting him or not, Mbah Marijan would not leave Mt Merapi for World Cup.