With our tour guide and new friend Wayan, we spent the day exploring parts of Northwest and Central Bali. From mornings spent at a local restaurant for some good Balinese food to time spent wandering in the deep jungles of Bali in serene settings observing hundreds of years of dedication at Hindu temples.
Later in the afternoon after rice paddies and lake temples we were invited to a special event at Wayan’s village temple. We didn’t know what to expect, but we quickly found ourselves at ease at his family’s home in their compound and then later on at the Hindu temple itself.
With a double sarong around my waist and a traditional Balinese udeng wrapped around my head M and I were soon involved in blessings and observances of a traditional Hindu ceremony to keep the gods of the underworld happy.
Our friend Wayan took leave of us as he was in the band that was to play music during the ceremony. In his absence much of our time was spent observing the behavior of the locals and not trying to embarrass our friend Wayan’s trust in us. Even with the language barrier you could tell people spent the time before hand gossiping and talking about their day while waiting for things to begin.
Inevitably I nearly upended the whole ceremony by stepping through the central gate of the main temple meant to be the doorway for the gods. Nary a step out the door I felt a sudden twinge of horror when I realized that no one ever used this doorway. As I turned my head I observed a small girl with a look of fright on her face shaking her head back and forth disapprovingly. As I hastened my way back down the steps I sank down next to M with an awareness that the entire horrified audience was staring at me for my faux paux.
After a few minutes the fear and talking had calmed down and soon enough the prayers were underway. With the assistance of a helpful woman next to us we were able to participate in several prayers where we tucked flowers behind our ears along with taking three handfuls of water to purify our spirit.
Soon after the blessing the procession of musicians, Hindu priests, and a gaggle of both young women and men clad in all white and yellow made their way down the street to another more local family temple where the continued ceremony would proceed for the remainder of the evening.
With incense and offerings of flowers, food, cigarettes, and a whole of other items piled high in an array of handwoven rounded baskets we were finally at ease with our surroundings. The intimacy and layers of history in this ceremony stretched across hundreds of years if not thousands. With precision and a deep sense of reverence the priests made their way around as they acted out actions of the ancient vedas in darkened skies in this tiny Balinese village.