Amid the devastation, the one thing left standing is a myth
From Richard Lloyd Parry in Banda Aceh

Banda Aceh locals believe that the tsunami was God's vengeance for sins committed near the holy site of Syiah Kuala's grave

THROUGHOUT the devastated city of Banda Aceh, almost everyone has heard about the miracles at the grave of the holy man, Syiah Kuala.
Stories are told of how the famous shrine survived undamaged when the tsunami struck a month ago today; how a mysterious light rose from it as the waves surged inland; how the old man who tended the grave was mysteriously saved from death; and above all, how the disaster was God's punishment for the sins committed near the holy place.

The stories are passed on from person to person. Now, all day pilgrims wend their way along the rubble-strewn causeway that connects the seaside grave site to the mainland.

Syiah Kuala is Banda Aceh's patron saint, a 17th-century Islamic teacher and holy man, whose name was bestowed upon the local university and an entire district of the city. Rarely has the city's protector been as revered as he is since the tragedy.

"It was the night of Christmas Day," Edy Subang, a marketing officer for a mobile phone company, said as he returned from the grave site. "There was a group of police having a party on the beach with women and alcohol, and the man who guards the grave warned them they should not do such things near the grave of Syiah Kuala.

"One of the policemen got angry and threatened to shoot the old man, but another one told him not to harm him. Of all of them, only the old man and the good policeman survived the water."

"The old man's family survived it all, too," Edy's friend, Andi Samariandi, said. "The old man saw an angel who warned them all to leave.",00.html