featured image: Ida Pedanda Made Gung with Kyai H. Agus Thoha Al-Amnani

Earlier today, the 18th of January 2015, a rather extraordinary gathering  took place in Ubud just south of Teges at the Suly Hotel. The Ta’lim Darul Ubudiyah Council along with the Bali Hindu Muslim Brotherhood (PHMB) created a special event to celebrate the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. Although the actual date was on the 3rd of January the event was organized in order to enable various parties and local dignitaries to attend.

DSCF4571Ida Pedanda Made Gunung talks to the hundreds strong Ubud Muslim community about the need for harmony.

The undoubted highlight for the hundreds of resident Muslims present was Balinese brahmin priest Ida Pedanda Made Gunung, who is  is quite the star amongst Hindu Balinese with his own website and tv appearances, who appeared along with Kyai H Agus Thoha Al-Amnani a well known Muslim preacher.

DSCF4572Even the kids stayed rapt in Pedanda Made Gunung’s stories

Pedanda Made Gunung pretty much stole the show, he is quite the orator who spiced his talk with humor and some humble parables and analogies; he even managed to keep the attention of the many young children running around.

One story he told that was a real crowd pleaser was the the imagined demonstration by the Association of Demons and Devils, who went to heaven to protest to God. When God asked them what the fuss was all about they sent in a delegation who answered that they were fed up with humans acting like them. “And then when humans commit barbaric acts they claim ‘the devil got into me’ – we did no such thing!!! They did it all on their own.” And God replied: “Look, you think you have it bad. I made everything for them and then gave it to them. Then they go and ruin and abuse it all. Then when a landslide happens or some such, they say “it’s God’s will”. Nonsense, I’ve already turned over the responsibility to them!”

There was much mirth and applause all around during his talk, and his message of the necessity for pluralism and acceptance was much taken to heart. Hats off to the Muslim community of Ubud and Gianyar, in particular the Ta’lim Darul Ubudiyah Council for taking this initiative.

DSCF4574The obligatory photo op at the end….


DSCF4578And the equally obigatory press mobbing on the way out: “This is the real Indonesia” Ida Pedanda said to them.

Text and photos ©Rio Helmi