Thursday, March 5, 2009

Lightning bolt makes healer of Indonesian village boy

Once a while, I welcome news such as this. In this harsh world, its welcoming to know that miracles do happen. Read the following news and judge for yourself. You may or may not believe in what you read. But it is hope that you believe in miracles too.

Muhammad Ponari (L), who locals believe possesses healing powers, dips his "magic stone" into a bottle of water. Photo: Reuters

MOHAMMAD Ponari was, until last month, a typical kid in the impoverished East Java village of Balongsari. Then, quite literally, lightning struck.

The nine-year-old, who had been playing in the rain in his front yard, was hit by the thunderbolt but, to the astonishment of his young friends, he was unharmed.

All the more bizarre, according to an account by his village chief and his family, when he came to, he found a stone the size of an egg on his head, and was convinced he possessed healing powers.

A boy next door with a fever was his first patient. The stone was placed in a glass of water and the boy drank deeply. His fever vanished.

Then another neighbour approached him, a woman in her 30s who had suffered from a depressive condition for 15 years. She, too, was healed.

The miracles, large and small, kept coming, said Nila Retno, the local village chief.

"My arm was sprained. The water touched by stone was given to me and I applied the water to my sprained arm. Suddenly, I was OK again," she said.

The district police commissioner, Sutikno, a devout Muslim who will be making the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca this year, told of his experience.

"I was inside the house talking to the boy and his family. Together with me in the house was a boy of his age who had not spoken for five years," he said.

"Ponari shook him. The boy reacted and they started fighting, like wrestling and pulling each other's hair. Then, a few moments after the fighting, the boy started to talk."

What did he say? "He said 'I'm scared' in Javanese — but he talked."

The tales of miraculous healings spread. Within a week of the lightning strike, hundreds of villagers were lining up outside Ponari's modest home.

A week later, the ailing, the lame and the curious were coming from as far afield as Malaysia. Thousands queued each day in lines stretching for kilometres, carrying plastic bags of water ready to be transformed into an elixir by the magical stone.

Stampedes erupted on at least three occasions, resulting in the deaths of three people and injuries to dozens more.

The extraordinary scenes in Balongsari highlight the strong grip that mysticism retains over many Indonesians, and Javanese in particular.

While Islam is the most popular religion in Indonesia, it is infused with supernatural beliefs that have been part of Indonesian culture since prehistory, incorporating elements of animism, Buddhism and Hinduism, religions that have at one time or another dominated Java.

Commonly known as dukuns, these shamans and healers can be found in most villages and city shantytowns. Many double as Islamic clerics, and offer services ranging from alternative medical treatments, to guidance in romantic affairs and fortune-telling.

Dukun santet are the exponents of black magic, sorcerers who cast spells. In 1998, 200 supposed dukun santet were massacred in East Java in a mysterious series of killings that have never been solved.

Politicians frequently seek the guidance of dukuns, most famously the former dictator Suharto. Magazines proliferate tracking the latest development in the paranormal world, packed with ads from dukuns spruiking their other-worldy abilities.

As for Ponari, he stopped administering his miracle cures this week after tending to tens of thousands of patients. The public disorder forced police to remove the boy to an undisclosed location.

Even so, as much as 1 billion rupiah ($A120,000) has been raised through a charity box outside his home. This, many adherents to mysticism believe, was poor form indeed. Dukuns are not supposed to profit from their activities.

According to village chief Retno, Ponari himself said he had been "scolded" by the stone for accepting cash. "He said he felt that his whole body was whipped," she said.

Ponari himself has now fallen ill, gripped by fever and nausea. Exhaustion perhaps. Or a sign of displeasure from the spirit world?



nichive said...

His story is the main-streamed media's main-course lately, and thank to brought it to the blogosphere.

Some did get healed, some-others didn't. Blame the last group, I say ;-)

Bill said...

This is amazing. I do believe that there is miracles happening all over the world every day. This boy must just be one of them. Great post.Have a great one,.

lunaticg said...

What a gift.
Great story my friend.
See you around.

J2Kfm said...

wow ... to imagine he felt bad luck to be struck by lightning, then damn fortunate to be alive and well, even more when the sky above granted him a rock (?) and the ability to heal ppl ala Heroes, and then wished he was never granted the power as the chaos that ensued was ruthless ....

bet he'll look back with pride in the future, and surely put a smile to his wrinkly face.

ahlock said...

J2Kfm: Thanks for your comment. He was able to perform cures. At the same time, a few people were killed in a stampede. Now I'm wondering if the stone is more than a curse than a blessing :)

Duniamaya said...

Ponari oh ponari

nichive said...

the stampede sure is a downside of the story.. I agree

Tripzibit said...

Wow, i didn't know that you also interested with this story. But as you know there are another children in East Java (2 or 3) that claim they also have a similar stone that like Ponari have.

Actually i'm not really sure how that stone work, or the effect on humans. Because there haven't been any research on that stone effect on humanbeing.

Nice post as always

Lyla said...

i don't believe Ponari because i believe God only

rahman said...

wow... i don't know you are interested on ponari stoty. You know, the most popular drink in Indonesia right now is "ponari sweat"....

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