BALI CULTURE INFORMATION

 

 
 
The Island Of Bali, Indonesia

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RITES AND FESTIVALS

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Serious babies in silks and gold necklaces also kneeled, repeating evey gesture of their elders. Outside the temple the crowd gathered listening to the stately music of the gong or watching a show. Sometimes the men staged cockfights (also a part of the ritual) or flirted with the vendors.

In a quiet corner an old pemangku proceeded to imbue with the spirits of the local deities the temple artjas, a pair of beautifully carved little statues, male and female, of painted and gilt sandalwood. They were usually locked into the central shrine wrapped in many cloths and kept in a special basket, but they were taken out on the day of their feast and made " alive." While an old man chanted the ancient song Sinom Surakarta, the old pemangku recited a special prayer of invitation to lure the deities to occupy the artjas so that in this more tangible form they would preside over the feast in their honour, be taken out in procession, and in general serve as a point f sight towards which the ceremony was directed.

The gamelan angklung played outside the temple while the people began to form for the great procession to take the gods for a symbolical bath (melis or makies) to the nearest big river. The march started, headed by many bearers of flags, pennants. and spears, followed by a long line of girls, their torsos wrapped in silk scarfs of yellow, green, and magenta, marching in single file with the offerings and pots of holy water on their heads. Then came the little statuettes of the gods, decorated for the occasion with fresh flowers, carried on cushions on the heads of a group of picked girls and shaded by three-staged umbrella, of state.

Older women followed, also carrying offerings, and the procession was closed by the group of men and the orchestra which played an obstinate marching rhythm on the gongs. The correct thing would have been to take the gods to the seashore, but Kengetan was far inland and there it was customary to L' to the river for melis.

In Den Pasar, on the occasion of the great feast of the temple Taman Badung, from a height I saw a great procession over a mile long, a fact verified by the mileage posts on the road, a fantastic spectacle in the late afternoon sun, preceded by hundreds of fluttering flags and tall pennants, white umbrellas, and spears, moving slowly towards the sea to the accompaniment of gongs. On arrival at the beach in Kuta, after a walk of five miles, the artjas received offerings, the priests prayed towards them, and the people sang songs of praise and danced mendet to entertain the gods, returning at dusk to continue the feast through the night.

In Kengetan it was already dark when the procession returned to the temple, its arrival greeted with exploding firecrackers and clattering kulkuls, while the orchestras played furiously all at the same time. The parade stopped at the temple gate in front of the pemangku, who waited, seated in front of a mat spread with offerings. He proceeded to welcome the artjas, once more addressing a prayer to them, ringing his bell, and offering rice, money, eggs, and wine, decapitating a little chicken to spill the blood on the ground.

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