The Jakarta Post
Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo has banned residents from performing an ancient tradition of engaging in sex at the tomb of Prince Samodra on Mount Kumukus in Sragen regency.
Mt. Kemukus is recognized by parts of the community as a place of worship to seek riches. Those who seek wealth are encouraged to have sexual intercourse on the mountain with someone other than their legal partner in order to achieve prosperity.
Ganjar said the tomb of the prince, who had spread Islam in the region, should serve as a religious tourism site but had instead been misused and turned into a place of prostitution.
'If you want to become rich, why should you engage in promiscuous sex? This is [...] inappropriate,' Ganjar said on Tuesday at the gubernatorial office complex in Semarang.
He deemed the tradition as hazardous in terms of health and morality. Besides, according to Ganjar, the ritual tainted the image of the nation as it had been reported by foreign media.
'The outside world knows about this. Isn't it a shame?' he asked.
According to Ganjar, it is necessary to distinguish between performing a pilgrimage to the tomb of Prince Samodra and carrying out covert prostitution.
'Please do make visits to the tomb, but don't engage in free sex there,' he said.
The sex tradition has had an impact on the spread of prostitution in the area, as sex workers ply their trade at dimly lit stalls, especially on the day of Pon Friday in the Javanese calendar. Those who engage in the activity are also susceptible to sexually transmitted infections, which are on the rise in the area.
Although the practice has a long history, it came to light after it was reported by Australian television station Special Broadcasting Service (SBS).
In an episode of its Dateline program titled 'Sex Mountain', SBS journalist Patrick Abboud investigated the sex ritual intertwined with prostitution on Mt. Kemukus.
Sexual intercourse on the mountain has been practiced by parts of the community for generations. It is believed to relate to a message from Prince Samodra, who was buried on the peak of the mountain together his lover and stepmother, Ontrowulan.
Their love was not approved of by Samodra's father, causing Samodra to flee to the mountain. After his stepmother followed him, their presence became known to local residents, who punished the pair, eventually leading to their deaths.
Before his death, Prince Samodra left a message stating that for any person willing to engage in intercourse with a person other than his or her legal partner seven times on Pon Friday, the day when Samodra died alongside Ontrowulan, the person's wishes would be fulfilled.
In the video report, Abboud said that every 35 days, a person must engage in sexual intercourse seven times so the ritual would be a success. According to him, the government and local religious leaders tended to ignore the prostitution trade disguised as ancient tradition on the mountain.
Central Java provincial council Commission E secretary Hasan Asy'ari said he agreed with the governor's move to ban the sex ritual on Mt. Kemukus.
'From the aspect of religion, engaging in sex with a non-legal partner is against religious law and norms,' he said.