See Photos From Indonesian Pon Festival Where Married People Have S£X With Stranger.
The practice of having s*x with a stranger may seem extreme, but while some cultures practice it secretly, at the Pon Festival Indonesia, everything is out in the open.
During this centuries-old ritual, couples meet to have s*xual intercourse next to a shrine, on the side of a mountain.
The mountain in question is Mount Kemukus, located near the village of Solo in Java. And while it is an unusual spot, it is not the only fascinating aspect of this ancient rite.
The Pon Festival involves ritualistic sx between strangers, even if both parties are married to other people. These are not one-off encounters, either: the couples must meet seven times every 35th day if the ritual is to be considered complete. This means that they will have sx for the best part of a year. The relationship has all the components of a committed, caring relationship, though it is anything but.
For centuries, pilgrims have convened at a shrine called Gunung Kemukus, on the auspicious day of Jumat Pon (from which the Festival takes its name). The shrine is believed to house the remains of a 16th century prince called Pangeran Samudro, the son of a Javanese king; next to him are the remains of his stepmother, Nyai Ontrowulan.
Several versions of their story abounds but it is believed that Samudro and Ontrowulan were forced to flee their home when Samudro’s father discovered their affair. The pair arrived in Solo only to be caught, mid-coitus, by villagers and killed. Opinion is divided over what happened next: one re-telling states that before he died, Samudro sanctioned adulterous intercourse on Pon Friday.
Another suggests that couples who commit a more scandalous act than Samudro and Ontrowulan’s will be rewarded with good fortune, and that they must have sx on the grave to get it. Whatever the lineage, thousands of pilgrims converge at the site in the belief that illicit sx will bring them good luck. Pilgrims come seeking success for their businesses or for personal gain to pay off debts.
Traditionally, the sx is performed out in the open, and the couple will spend the remainder of the night together under the trees that dot the hillside. For those not partaking in sx, karaoke bars provide alternative entertainment. The mountain is littered with karaoke shacks as well as stalls selling everything from refreshments to traditional trinkets and aphrodisiacs.
A community sxual health clinic opens its doors once a week, offering testing for sxually transmitted diseases as well as free condoms to the working girls that remain in situ when the visiting pilgrims are gone. A localised hike in STDs has been blamed on the festival: many of the men who pay for s*x refuse to wear the condoms. Whatever the fate of the Pon Festival, it offers a fascinating insight into how traditional beliefs can develop into some very modern behaviour.
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