Each year, members of the Tengger ethnic group gather in the villages around the active volcano to prepare their offerings, climb to the top and throw animals, fruits and vegetables or flowers into its crater, for the festival of Yadnya Kasada.

Devotees marched in single file to the summit, some carrying goats on their backs, to make offerings to the volcano in hopes of winning the benevolence of the gods and ensuring the prosperity of the tengger community, a group ethnicity from East Java Island.

“Despite the pandemic, I come here every year to bring agricultural products and express our gratitude to the gods and ancestors,” Wawan, one of the devotees, told AFP.

Wawan threw chickens and fruits and vegetables into the crater as he prayed atop the 2,300-meter-high volcano, located in a vast caldera with four other volcanoes.

Other villagers stand on the slopes inside the crater with nets in the hope of scavenging some of the offerings before they disappear to the bottom of the smoking crater.

Bambang Suprapto, head of the local Hindu association, said the ritual had continued despite the pandemic in previous years, as it “could not take place anywhere else” or virtually.

But access to the crater has been restricted and tourists have been banned due to health restrictions, he added.

The annual festival dates back to 15th century legends linked to the Javanese princess Roro Anteng of the Majapahit kingdom and her consort.

Left childless after years of marriage, the couple had begged the gods to help them.

Their prayers were heard, and they received the promise of having 25 children, on the condition of sacrificing their last born by throwing him into the Bromo volcano.

Legend has it that their son rushed himself into the crater to ensure prosperity for the Tengger people.

This annual tradition continues to this day, although it is agricultural products and animals that serve as the offering and no longer humans.

Bambang Suprapto, as a community leader, threw his offerings into the crater praying that the relationship between humans, gods and nature would remain harmonious.

“If we take care of nature, it will take care of us too,” he noted.