BALI CULTURE INFORMATION

 

 
 
The Island Of Bali, Indonesia

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THE CALENDAR

Every home and all implements were provided with offerings for galunggan, the old utensils renewed and the baskets washed. On all the roads, at the gate of every home, tall penyors were erected, meant perhaps to be seen from the summits of the mountains where the gods dwell, together with a little bamboo altar from which hung a lamak, one of those beautiful mosaics on long strips of palm-leaf. For this occasion the lamaks were over thirty feet long and had to hang from the tops of the coconut trees.

Everybody wore new clothes and the whole of Bali went out for a great national picnic. Everywhere there were women with offerings on their heads and many old men dressed for the occasion in old-fashioned style, gold kris and all, although with an incongruous imported undershirt. The younger generation preferred to tear all over the island in open motor-cars, packed like sardines, dressed in fancy costumes, many young men in absurd versions of European clothes, the girls wearing their brightest silks and their best gold flowers in their hair.

After visiting the village temple the gay groups went to the many feasts held on this and the following days all over the island. At this time the peculiar monsters called barong - a great fleece of long hair with a mask and gilt ornaments, animated by two men - were " loose " and free to go wherever they pleased. Everywhere on the road one met the cavorting holy barongs, who had become foolish for the day, dancing down the roads and paths, followed breathlessly by their orchestras and attendants.

In the temple of Gelgel, the former capital, there was a great feast where plays were given and violent " kris dances " were staged - when crazed men in a trance pretended to stab themselves and tore live chickens with their teeth to show their wickedness; but a more serene feast was celebrated in the jungle temple near the summit of the Batukau. There the mountain people brought offerings to the Batukau spirit while the Elders prepared the banquet in the spring underneath giant tree-ferns: performing afterwards a majestic baris dance, each dressed iii black and white magic cloth, mimicking a stately battle with their long spears.

Ten days after gahunggan came the day kuninggan, when new offerings and new lamaks were made and coconut husks were burned in front of every gate. This was the date of the temple feast of Tirta Empul, the sacred baths near Tampaksiring, and all morning people bathed unashamed in the purifying waters. men on one side, women on the other, after leaving an offering for the deity of the spring.

They turned their backs on the crowd, unconcerned under the spouts, each of which is supposed to have a special purifying or curative quality. Eventually the local prince arrived with his wives and with an impressive retinue of servants. Also the barongs of the district came prancing down the hills to offer their respects and snap their jaws while a pemangku offered their prayers, manifesting their temperaments by making the men under the fleece fall in a trance and throw epileptic fits.

The following day was the feast of Sakenan, the temple of the little island of Serangan, just off the Badung coast. Since the night before, the island was jammed with pilgrims and orchestras, and the next morning the short stretch of sea between Serangan and the mainland was filled with fantastic boats shaped like fish with their triangular sails up, overloaded with richly dressed people. On arrival they waded to the temple, the women balancing offerings on their heads while lifting their brocade skirts out of reach of the water.

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