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    Tropical Storm Tour: Bali Part 35

    Monday, September 28, 2015
    Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

    Wordy oxidation in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.
    Wordy oxidation in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.

    A thrashed electrical box in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.
    A thrashed electrical box in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.

    Last night at Ubud Palace, I overheard someone talking about a full moon Hindu temple ceremony over at Dadya Pasek Gelgel and Pura Penataran Pande in Peliatan tonight, and sure enough, when I walked over there at 6:00 pm, there was one in full swing. Since I had the foresight to don my udeng and sarong, I was allowed to step right inside the temple, no problem. (I actually got invited in by a smiling old lady.) Plenty of people were praying, while others sat and chatted and laughed, little kids ran around and played, and teenagers checked their smartphones. My favorite part was when the gamelan fired up and played an extended sprightly tune.

    Decorations announce a Hindu temple ceremony at Dadya Pasek Gelgel in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.
    Decorations announce a Hindu temple ceremony at Dadya Pasek Gelgel in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.

    People pray at a Hindu temple ceremony at Dadya Pasek Gelgel in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.
    People pray at a Hindu temple ceremony at Dadya Pasek Gelgel in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.

    After that, there was a lull in the activities, so I stepped back out onto the street and schlepped a little ways down to Pura Penataran Pande, where there was also a similar but larger ceremony underway right out front next to the sidewalk. A phalanx of people holding offerings and tall, decorative umbrellas stood in front of another group of people who were sitting on the ground praying and giving offerings to the spirits. After a few minutes, a gamelan that was set up on a bale at the side of the front courtyard started playing, causing everyone to form a procession that streamed up the stairs and through the doorways of the temple gates.

    A Hindu temple ceremony at Dadya Pasek Gelgel in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.
    A Hindu temple ceremony at Dadya Pasek Gelgel in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.

    The gamelan at a Hindu temple ceremony at Dadya Pasek Gelgel in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.
    The gamelan at a Hindu temple ceremony at Dadya Pasek Gelgel in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.

    At that point, I moved over in front of a shrine to get a photo of the gamelan. When I put my hand on a ledge to steady myself as I sat down, I felt a sharp pain on the skin of my palm, like I had been burned or bitten by a bug. Sure enough, when I looked at it, there was a tiny blister, which just so happened to be located directly on top of a small scar from a cut I suffered 36 years earlier. What are the odds? Upon examination, I concluded that it was a burn from a stick of incense, not a bug bite, because there was no red mark on the blister. When I stepped inside the inner courtyard, I was taken aback by a sea of people in bright, colorful clothes sitting on the ground, some of them praying while others sat and chatted and laughed.

    Offerings at a Hindu temple ceremony at Dadya Pasek Gelgel in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.
    Offerings at a Hindu temple ceremony at Dadya Pasek Gelgel in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.

    A Hindu temple ceremony at Pura Penataran Pande in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.
    A Hindu temple ceremony at Pura Penataran Pande in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.

    As I sat down at the bottom of the stairs, a friendly lady made small talk with me for a bit. A little while later, I saw her out front performing a dance with a couple of dozen other ladies. I was super stoked hanging out and completely absorbing all of the sights and sounds that were so exotic to me but at the same time downright mundane to the Balinese. As a priest sat on the highest bale and chanted and sang, other groups of people occasionally joined in, mixing with other sounds like the deep gamelan gongs out front, people talking, kids playing and another small gamelan tinkling away just to my right.

    A procession at a Hindu temple ceremony at Pura Penataran Pande in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.
    A procession at a Hindu temple ceremony at Pura Penataran Pande in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.

    A dance performance at a Hindu temple ceremony at Pura Penataran Pande in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.
    A dance performance at a Hindu temple ceremony at Pura Penataran Pande in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.

    As soon as I heard the loud crack of a metal knob on a wooden box, I looked up, only to see a Wayang (puppet) show starting up. Much more than just a puppet show, it’s a serious part of the Balinese Hindu religion that greatly influences their everyday lives. Each performance–all night at temple ceremonies for locals or one hour for tourist shows–usually occurs in front of an oil lamp behind a screen, and is filled with deeply spiritual singing, humorous interludes and plenty of hyperactive drama that tells stories from the Hindu epic, the Ramayana. The puppets are beautiful, intricately cut works of art made out of buffalo hide leather and manipulated by wooden sticks. A highly revered and talented figure who operates the puppets, the dalang, or puppet master, sings and beats hyper, erratic time against a box with a small wooden block held in his toes! Two small gamelan metallophones supply the rest of the ringing, festive music.

    A dance performance at a Hindu temple ceremony at Pura Penataran Pande in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.
    A dance performance at a Hindu temple ceremony at Pura Penataran Pande in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.

    Devotees pray at a Hindu temple ceremony at Pura Penataran Pande in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.
    Devotees pray at a Hindu temple ceremony at Pura Penataran Pande in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.

    It was interesting that the dalang was not performing in front of an oil lamp behind a screen, so instead of a shadow puppet show, it was just a plain old puppet show. But, it was still just as awesome, and I was super amped to witness one in its natural environment instead of at a performance conducted just for tourists. Several little kids hung out right in front of the big piece of bamboo that the puppets were attached to, so mesmerized by the performance that they were nearly pressing their faces right up against the puppets. It was really funny. Somewhere during all of this, a few ladies walked around the crowd doling out holy water to the faithful, who drank it from their palms, and rubbed it onto their faces and heads. Each person also took a bit of rice and smeared a third eye onto his or her own forehead.

    A wayang performance at a Hindu temple ceremony at Pura Penataran Pande in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.
    A wayang performance at a Hindu temple ceremony at Pura Penataran Pande in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.

    A wayang performance at a Hindu temple ceremony at Pura Penataran Pande in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.
    A wayang performance at a Hindu temple ceremony at Pura Penataran Pande in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.

    Right when the Wayang ended, it was time for final prayers as a priest led the faithful through a series of incantations. For those, a nice young Balinese man to my left shared some of his flowers with me and showed me how to hold them in my fingertips and press my palms together with my thumbs placed between my eyes. With the end of the prayers also arrived the end of the day’s ceremony. When I checked the schedule posted on a big sign, I found out that it had been going on for several days and still had a couple of more days to go. Too bad I had to fly home the next day, but I was still super happy I got to see a bit of the ceremony.

    A wayang performance at a Hindu temple ceremony at Pura Penataran Pande in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.
    A wayang performance at a Hindu temple ceremony at Pura Penataran Pande in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.

    Time for holy water at a Hindu temple ceremony at Pura Penataran Pande in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.
    Time for holy water at a Hindu temple ceremony at Pura Penataran Pande in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.

    Words and photos ©2015 Arcane Candy.

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