The Sex Mountain: The remote Indonesian religious site where married men, housewives, and politicians go to have sex with strangers… to bring themselves good fortune
What if I say there a festival where Pilgrims go just to perform sex with strangers? They indulge themselves in some sexual activities while they’re on a holy pilgrimage and it fulfills their prayers? Yes, it is happening in the world’s largest Muslim majority country, Indonesia.
The Pon Festival in Indonesia involves ritualistic sex between strangers. This bizarre ritual is being observed & practiced by the people javas for centuries now. The sex mountain or Mount Kemukum is a hilltop Javanese shrine (Gunung Kemukus) in Sragen Regency, Indonesia, where a scandalous sex industry and strange rituals take place.
No matter if they are married to other people or not. They can participate in this ritual but to complete it, you would need to rendezvous with the same stranger 7 times, once every 35 days, when Jumat Pon occurs. If this cycle is broken, then it has to be restarted. Only upon the completion of this cycle will they be able to fully reap their coveted rewards.
Legend has it that in the 16th Century, Prince Pangeran Samodro had an affair with his step-mother Nyai Ontrowulan. They ran off to Mount Kemukus and committed incest. However, they were caught in the act by soldiers and local villagers, who killed the couple on the spot and buried them in one hole.
The prince is now honored with a shrine in the same place. It is a common belief that if two strangers have sex at the spot and finish the incomplete act of the honored couple, blessings and a good fortune would be granted from Ontrowulan herself.
When the ritual first began, the scene exploded with pilgrims making out in the open or under the trees. Gradually, hostels and small businesses took over and the place turned into a tourist spot, earning large incomes for the locals as well as the government.
The pilgrimage is corrupted due to high-demand of women in the area. The festival is now more sort of sex-trade than just a ritual. Conservative Muslims who lived nearby started protesting against the boom of adultery. Rise in the numbers of HIV and other STD cases further fueled the situation and eventually, a major section of the businesses including hotels and rented rooms were shut down. Most of the families which were not involved in the sex-related business have migrated from the hill.
In 2014, it was claimed that up to 75% of the women present were full or part-time sex workers; with more men than women in attendance, there is no shortage of men willing to pay for the pleasure.
Although, strong believers continue to carry the legacy and follow the ritual religiously under the trees, just like the old days. The one who doesn’t want to have sex. They visit the Karaoke bars to experience alternative pleasures. If they are to be believed, performing this act has helped some of them gain better income, while others claim to have observed a decline in their problems in life.
Whatever the fate of the Pon Festival, it offers a fascinating insight into how traditional beliefs can develop into some very modern behavior. I’m sure there’d be some pilgrims who tell their spouses that they are traveling to Gunung Kemukus and many don’t.
The practice of having sex with a stranger may seem extreme, but every culture, in every country of the world, practices extra-marital sex. The difference is that most of us keep it secret while at the Pon Festival, everything is out in the open.
I believe this ritual is also helping local sex workers who’re in need of money. However, I can’t deny the fact that the adult industry attracts human trafficking too.
What are you waiting for? Plan your trip to Indonesia and experience this adulterous pilgrimage.
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