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    Tropical Storm Tour: Bali Part 15

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015
    Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

    Chandra Wati performs the Panyembrahma dance at the Water Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    Chandra Wati performs the Panyembrahma dance at the Water Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Chandra Wati performs the Cendrawasih dance at the Water Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    Chandra Wati performs the Cendrawasih dance at the Water Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Chandra Wati performs the Baris dance at the Water Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    Chandra Wati performs the Baris dance at the Water Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    When I talked to the ticket seller Nur Astika today, I asked her if there were any temple ceremonies going on. She said there was one over at Pura Dalem Desa Pakraman Taman Kaja that started at 9:00 pm. Armed with that knowledge, I figured I could walk over to it after a show. So, I bought a ticket to see Chandra Wati at the most stunning venue in Ubud, the Water Palace. From the swanky Lotus Pond restaurant out front, a stately stone walkway leads back between two ponds that are covered in lovely lily pads, proceeding on out to a majestic temple. This place is so gorgeous and picturesque, they charge 60,000 rupiah ($4.21) just for people to pose for photos in front of it–and people gladly pay!

    The Chandra Wati gamelan performs at the Water Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    The Chandra Wati gamelan performs at the Water Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Chandra Wati performs the Taruna Jaya dance at the Water Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    Chandra Wati performs the Taruna Jaya dance at the Water Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Chandra Wati performs the Kelinci dance at the Water Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    Chandra Wati performs the Kelinci dance at the Water Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Tonight’s show featured an all-woman gamelan, the aforementioned Chandra Wati, and I was stoked, because I had never seen them before. Arriving 90 minutes prior to showtime, I plopped my ass down in the center front. Luckily, no one else had turned up yet. But, it didn’t take too long–maybe 30 to 45 minutes–for the first few folks to arrive. At one point, a Hindu religious procession passed by out front, heading west on Jalon Raya Ubud to the temple ceremony over at Pura Dalem Desa Pakraman Taman Kaja. I was bummed, because I would have rather attended the procession and ceremony tonight, which started two hours earlier than Nur said, and I could have seen Chandra Wati next week. Alas, it was not to be. But, what if it were to be? Would that be the question?

    Chandra Wati performs a topeng (mask) dance at the Water Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    Chandra Wati performs a topeng (mask) dance at the Water Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Chandra Wati's topeng (mask) dancer looks for the bug at the Water Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    Chandra Wati’s topeng (mask) dancer looks for the bug at the Water Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    The Chandra Wati gamelan relaxes at the Water Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    The Chandra Wati gamelan relaxes at the Water Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    As all of the chairs filled up and showtime arrived, the Chandra Wati gamelan fired up for an opening instrumental intro. I really enjoyed the strange, droney tuning of the gangsas (the xylophones with metal keys), which sounded like they could have been played in some kind of Rhys Chatham avante-garde ensemble in early ’80s New York. Second up was the Pendet, the always entrancing flower-tossing welcome dance featuring the most beautiful girls the village could muster. Third was the Cendrawasih, which mimicked the graceful movements of the bird of paradise that this dance was named after. Fourth in line was the Baris, a stately dance that examined the concerns of the brave Balinese warrior as he prepared for battle.

    The Chandra Wati gamelan relaxes at the Water Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    The Chandra Wati gamelan relaxes at the Water Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Women carry offerings on their heads during a Hindu temple ceremony at Pura Dalem Desa Pakraman Taman Kaja in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    Women carry offerings on their heads during a Hindu temple ceremony at Pura Dalem Desa Pakraman Taman Kaja in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Offerings at a Hindu temple ceremony at Pura Dalem Desa Pakraman Taman Kaja in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    Offerings at a Hindu temple ceremony at Pura Dalem Desa Pakraman Taman Kaja in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    For the Taruna Jaya, a woman dressed up as a man to explore and express the many moods of Balinese youth. During this dance, there was some commotion in the audience as numerous young ladies suddenly sprang up out of their chairs and scattered from an unknown (to me) threat. I figured maybe it was either a feral dog or some exotic tropical critter that crawled up out of the pond. Next up was a lengthy children’s dance called the Kelinci, which represented a bunch of bunny rabbits playing in a meadow. The final straw came in the form of a topeng (mask) dance, in which a solo performer ventured out among the chairs for a little audience participation. His first order of business was to address the aforementioned panic-inducing intruder, which had since crawled out into the glare of the floodlights. It turned out to be a bug. Yeah, that’s what all of the crazy commotion was about–a simple bug. The dancer pointed at it and joked about it for a minute with the audience via pantomime.

    Women carry offerings on their heads during a Hindu temple ceremony at Pura Dalem Desa Pakraman Taman Kaja in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    Women carry offerings on their heads during a Hindu temple ceremony at Pura Dalem Desa Pakraman Taman Kaja in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    A priest blesses devotees with holy water during a Hindu temple ceremony at Pura Dalem Desa Pakraman Taman Kaja in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    A priest blesses devotees with holy water during a Hindu temple ceremony at Pura Dalem Desa Pakraman Taman Kaja in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    A shrine for Rangda at a Hindu temple ceremony at Pura Dalem Desa Pakraman Taman Kaja in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    A shrine for Rangda at a Hindu temple ceremony at Pura Dalem Desa Pakraman Taman Kaja in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Following that comical anti-climax, the show drew to a close. The audience was then invited up on stage to pose for photos with the performers, which was my cue to head back to my room to don my udeng and sarong and schlep over to the temple ceremony at Pura Dalem Desa Pakraman Taman Kaja. Arriving there, I waited out front for a few minutes, unsure if I should try to gain entry, as maybe my udeng and sarong weren’t formal enough. Then I saw a Balinese woman lead several foreign women inside, so I just hopped on their coat tails and cruised in, no problem. After a few minutes, I cautiously shot photos of Balinese ladies bearing large offerings of fruit on their heads and people praying, as well as numerous shrines devoted to various Hindu deities. I was stoked I also captured one of a priest blessing some followers with holy water. As the crowd dwindled down, I made my way out front, where I asked a guy what time the ceremony started tomorrow. Unfortunately, he said that it was only a one-day event. Dang! Too bad I missed most of it.

    Words and photos ©2015 Arcane Candy.

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