Art performance at Goa Gajah – tomorrow

Here are some photos from the previousSharing Creating Offering Art’ event at Goa Gajah:

This one was held about 6 months ago on Tumpek Krulut – which means ‘Compassion Day’:

The 3rd ‘Sharing Creating Offering Art’ event is being held tomorrow Sat 29 Aug 2015 which is also Tumpek Krulut in the Balinese calendar.

Can you afford to miss it?

Each of these events have showcased art in different forms and I’ve been lucky to read a poem too.  And tomorrow I’ve got 10 mins to share some of my poems about Bali – at approx 4.15pm.

It starts from 11am at Goa Gajah temple and the opening will also include a new gamelan piece – the performances will go through until late afternoon (I think I will be reading at approx 4.15pm).

Whatsmore, 2 of Yaniq’s drawings will be on display, here is one of them:

'Meditating' by Yaniq

‘Meditating’ by Yaniq

Hope to see you there.

Gede & Ari’s wedding – Kintamani style

Gede, who’s been working for me for over 2 years, got married to Ari on 29 Oct 2014.

Many Congratulations!!!

The double ceremony, with Gede’s cousin Wayan and Sugiani, started early in the morning next to Gede’s family home up in the cooler mountains of Kintamani.

Praying in the open air

Praying in the open air

Below the couple are balancing offerings… Gede on the back of his hands, Ari in the palms of her hands.  Seconds later they tossed them over their heads – with the help of guiding fingers that you can just see holding Gede’s arms.

In fact all through this ceremony, called Mekalakalan, the bride and groom have people standing right close up behind them, doubtless to keep them safe.  However these guardians at their backs must be younger than the bride and groom.

One of many rituals

One of many rituals

The next thing to be tossed over their heads was a small chicken which was caught by a lucky guest (in England the bride throws a bouquet of flowers and whoever catches it is supposed to get married next – makes me wonder how many countries have similar customs?).

Soon it was time for purification which involved taking some clothes off, Gede had his back washed while he washed Ari’s back.  I asked Gede if he was okay about me using this photo… he was pleased as it shows his local traditions (which are different from other Balinese weddings I’ve been to).

Purification

Purification

Purified, they put on fresh clothes – right there at the side of the street.

This Mekalakalan ceremony, took place in Abang village – literally on the street running alongside lake Batur, inside the volcanic caldera.

Mekalakalan Ceremony

Mekalakalan Ceremony

Now they are about to kick the past away… the offerings are taken away from the makeshift table, that’s been held up by family members throughout the ceremony and together, as one, the couple kick backwards at the legs of the table, which topples over.

They walk away from it and don’t look back.

Kicking the past away

Kicking the past away – with Mount Batur in the background

We all head back to the house, but before the couple can enter a ceremony has to be performed by the Mangku (Priest)

A ceremony before entering

A ceremony before entering

At the entrance (photo above) you can just see the Balinese greeting ‘Om Swastyastu’ written in letters of the alphabet.  Below, you can see it again written in Balinese Aksara.

Look closely and you can also see the swastika… used for literally thousands of years as a positive symbol of good luck, strength etc. (a perfect testament on how things that can be good one day can be perceived differently, by different peoples, the next day – maybe in a similar way that the ‘lower gods’ of today could become the ‘higher gods’ of tomorrow, which is why offerings are given to both, i.e. offerings are placed on the ground and up high too – maybe you might have to be here in Bali to ‘get’ that?  Anyway, Gede was visibly shocked when I explained that many people, in the west, associate the swastika with such opposite emotions as it is perceived here).

Om Swastyastu

Om Swastyastu

Inside there’s a feast ready to feed an army (they’d printed 300 wedding invitations but it was not enough – that’s a lot of mouths to feed).

And of course there was a huge number of offerings for both couples, who had to spend the first night, right here, in front of the offerings – to connect with God as much as with each other:

Offerings

Offerings

And now another change of clothes including earrings and make-up for the couple

Just let me fix that for you

Just let me fix that for you

Don’t they look stunning:

Gede and Ari in traditional Balinese wedding outfits

Gede and Ari in traditional Balinese wedding outfits

We all get in cars, or in the back of open pick-up trucks, and head up to the temple at Abang Songan.  The ice cream seller does a brisk trade outside the temple gates – I choose a wafer cone, but the most popular choice is to have ice cream in a bread roll.

Outside the temple at Abang Songan

Outside the temple at Abang Songan

A number of Mangkus arrive and one of them is Pasek’s uncle who I’ve met many times (Pasek built my house):

Me with the Mangku

Me with the Mangku (Priest)

Here the two couples are sitting down inside the temple just before this part of the ceremony is about to start.  The guests and the Priests sit on the floor too – we’re all barefoot.

The two couples inside the temple

The two barefoot couples inside the temple

The happy couple posing in front of a family temple at a Mangku’s house in the village

Posing in front of a family temple

Posing in front of a Mangku’s family temple

And below are an assortment of other pictures from the 2 days that I was there (the first day for the ceremony and the 2nd day for the reception)

Nyoman, Gede’s father, takes center stage in this picture and Teddy, who used to work at Rumah Jepun too, is right next to him and on the far left is Wayan, the other groom:

Wedding guests, including Gede’s mum on the right and next to her is Sugiani, the other bride from this double wedding

I took this photo as the couples walked through the village, from the Pura (temple) to the Mangku’s house:

Here are some family members, she has a great smile and he has a regal bearing, don’t you think?:

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Me with the happy couple:

Just about to pray:This is my favourite picture of Gede and Ari:

Although this is a great picture too:

And one showing them feeding each other (I love this part of the ceremony… feeding each other from the basket of love):

Let’s finish with this fabulous professional picture which was used for the wedding invitations:Congratulations and I wish both couples every happiness – or, as Yaniq would put it, ‘Happy in Happiness’!

Oh, and if you want to see more about this area of Kintamani click here: lakeside tranquility overlooking a volcano

Or to see photo’s of other Balinese weddings I’ve blogged about click here: Ketut and Komang and here:  Wayan and Chandra

Nyepi poem

Nyepi is the Balinese New Year.

It is a silent day.  Full of introspection.

For 24 hours there can be no travelling, no electricity, no work and no entertainment.  The really strict will fast too.

Nyepi Day fell on 31 March 2014 – which is 1936 in the Balinese Saka calendar.

The airport closed, the streets were empty and even the TV stations shut down from 6 in the morning until 6am the following day.

I love Nyepi Day and it inspired this poem:

Nyepi Day

The water fountain
in my pond
stopped tinkling

Lights
on the ceiling
lost their way

Rock music
on my stereo
simply ran out of tune

Whistling kettles
stayed cool
for a whole day

The silence
sent me into
meditation

No laptop
meant I wasn’t
enticed to play

My thoughts invented stories
usually only found
on TV

No radio
gave silence space
to have it’s say

It’s true
Nyepi saves
gas and electricity

It’s true
Earth hour’s
also paving the way

But for me
Nyepi gives time
for life…

to be appreciated
that’s why I really love
Nyepi Day

To read more about the lead up to Nyepi (i.e. noisy day) click here.

Happy New Year – Bali Style

Welcome to 1936, yes folks that’s the year according to the Balinese Caka calendar.

And, as usual, a big crowd gathered in Ubud tonight to watch the Ogoh Ogoh’s being paraded from the football field to the Palace, before the dawning of Nyepi Day – the silent day that starts at 6am.

Take a look at these pictures and tell me what you see, other than the fabulous Ogoh monsters themselves – look closely now…

Garuda carrying Vishnu

Garuda carrying Vishnu

Wicked

Wicked

Monsterous

Monsterous

Gigantic, red and mean!

Gigantic, red and mean!

Well – did you see the orbs?

By the way, I’ve described Nyepi in more detail in a previous blog post which you can read here, meanwhile, Selamat Hari Raya Nyepi (Happy New Year)!

A piece of cake or… a cake of peace

What a great way to teach values at a school.

Get the kids to make a paper cake, where each ingredients, such as the paper, tape, decorations and even the air inside and cherry on the top represents a value, such as respect, honesty, peace, compassion, love etc.

Cake of Peace

Cakes of Peace

These cakes were made by children at Karuna Bali, located at ‘Open Heart Space’, Campuhan College, Ubud.  Teachers in the western world, please take note.

Get far more than a piece of cake – get a cake of peace 🙂

I have a poem that fits with this idea… it’s called ‘Ingredients of Life’ and it starts like this:

Ingredients of Life

The most important ingredient
in our meal of many flavours
is love

The essential component
of our house built with strong hands
is heart

          and it ends like this:

The sole reason for our happiness
is the attitude we chose
to take

When we mix all the ingredients together
the word on the cake
of life says,
simply,
‘Love’

(if you want the whole poem, please email me and I will send it to you)

Miss World – comes to Bali

Yes, beautiful Bali will be hosting the Miss World beauty contest this year.

I recommend watching it on TV on 28 Sept 2013 – if only to get a glimpse of Bali.

However, from what I can gather, the event will be taking place over the whole month of Sept.

It will mainly be held in the south of Bali which has many top 5 star hotels and great beaches, probably in the Nusa Dua and Jimbaran areas,.

This is the 63rd Miss World and its the first time it has come to Indonesia.  In fact it’s never been anywhere in S.E. Asia before.

Image from Miss World website

Image from Miss World website

There is another ‘first’ too… instead of wearing bikinis, this year’s contestants will use sarongs which they are calling ‘Balinese beach fabric’.

This is because, although the small island of Bali is Hindu, the country of Indonesia is Muslim.

You can easily see nice pictures of beaches anytime, so I wanted to show you the area around Jati Luwih which, the grapevine has it, will be used for part of the contest (and I’ve just heard they will go to Besakih, The Mother Temple, on the slopes on Mount Agung too).

Valley floor... awash with rice

Valley floor… awash with rice

Jati Luwih was granted the UNESCO Heritage Award last year.

It received the award not for its outstanding natural beauty, but because of the ancient subak organisational system that runs through the sawah/rice fields.  The subak is fundamentally connected to the living culture within Bali.

Stunning rice terrace view

Dreamy rice terrace view

This system dates back to circa 9th century.

It ensures that water runs from the mountains down through the valleys in a maze of channels which irrigate the life blood of Bali i.e. the rice paddies (sawah).

Rice - as far as the eye can see

Rice – as far as the eye can see

I’m was inspired to write this poem about the rice paddies.

The Ricefields of my Being

The shape of my heart
is like Bali

Blood flows like water
through the ricefields
of my being

My soul channels
my life’s energy

And like the subak
its essential work
goes unseen

All through the sawah
of my existence

Seeds grow
then ripen
before fading away

I can watch
detached

As my
inner rice trees
are harvested

Giving me enough sustenance
for yet another day

For more info and pics of Jati Luwih click here.

If you want to come and stay in Bali while Miss World is here, then I currently still have some availability during Sept at Rumah Jepun, Ubud

Bamboo instruments (Jegog gamelan)

It was the eve of a full moon when Sandeh and I went to the Jegog performance in Pejeng (a village near Ubud, famous for its ‘Moon Temple’).

Jegog gamelan - giant bamboo instruments

Jegog gamelan – giant bamboo instruments

Jegog is both the name of these large bamboo instruments and the loud, energetic, bass-rich music they produce.

Jegog players

Jegog players

We were entertained by the orchestra and dancers, who wore brightly coloured silks under a clear night sky.

T'was a full moon

T’was a full moon

In my garden I have a small version of Jegog, called a rindik, and this bamboo instrument has decidedly more delicate tones.

You hum it, I'll play it

You hum it, I’ll play it

I can play the basics of one Balinese tune on the rindik called, ‘Merah Putih’ (it means Red and White = the colours of the Indonesian flag).

Hand carved Jegog

Hand carved Jegog

But these giant Jegog are something else, they really take a lot of effort to play.

Like organic xylophones

Like huge organic xylophones

Are you wondering how I know that?

Well, at the end of their performance, some of the audience were invited to take part in the orchestra.  Sandeh and I both got picked and we soon realised how tiring it is to play these heavy instruments, which demand speed and power!

This Jegog gamelan troup, called ‘Suar Agung’, come from the west of Bali.

They’ve been performing in Japan annually since 1984 and have also toured through Europe.

According to their website, “Jegog was created in the early 20th century within the farming communities of Bali’s least populated province, (Jembrana) but was banned in the 40’s by its Dutch rulers who feared the bamboo tubes could be used as weapons of uprising against them”.

– Indonesia finally got independence from the Dutch in 1945 after approx 350 years of colonial rule.

In another post I will write about traditional gamelan music – not made of bamboo, but metal.

Jegog music was first created in the early 20th century within the farming communities of Bali’s least populated province, but was banned in the 40s by its Dutch rulers who feared the bamboo tubes could be used as weapons of uprising against them. – See more at: http://jegogsuaragung.com/index#sthash.wYGz3LCU.dpuf
Jegog music was first created in the early 20th century within the farming communities of Bali’s least populated province, but was banned in the 40s by its Dutch rulers who feared the bamboo tubes could be used as weapons of uprising against them. – See more at: http://jegogsuaragung.com/index#sthash.wYGz3LCU.dpuf
Jegog music was first created in the early 20th century within the farming communities of Bali’s least populated province, but was banned in the 40s by its Dutch rulers who feared the bamboo tubes could be used as weapons of uprising against them. – See more at: http://jegogsuaragung.com/index#sthash.wYGz3LCU.dpuf

The Enchanting Monkey Forest

How lucky am I to have the enchanting Monkey Forest a mere 10 mins walk from Rumah Jepun.

Monkey see, monkey do

Monkey see, monkey do

There are over 600 monkeys in the sacred forest and they all belong to one of four troops, that can often be seen chasing each other as they weave their way past camera laden tourists

Its’ feeding time for this baby long-tailed macaque

Want a snack little fella

Want a snack little fella

Let’s take a tour through the leafy forest

Walk through tree lined pathways

Walk through tree lined pathways – its rare not to see any monkeys here

According to Ubud’s Sacred Forest’s website there are 115 separate species of tree in the forest, some of them are holy trees and many of them have medicinal properties.

Walking through the many tree lined pathways you get to see the different parts of the forest

A large tree in the middle of the walkways

A large tree in the middle of the walkways

There are many impressive trees.

The one in the cemetery has a hole right the way through it

A tree you can see through!

A tree you can see through!

This stump has lots of interestingly shaped mushrooms growing on it

Mushrooms growing on the tree

Mushrooms growing on the tree

I like this tree

Old twisted tree

Old twisted tree

But by far my favourite tree is the one that you walk through…

Massive tree straddling the path

Massive tree straddling the path

The downward growing limbs of this Banyan are seriously huge

Downward growing limbs blocking the sky

Downward growing limbs blocking the sky

Here it is from another viewpoint.  The base of the steps are guarded by two naga (snakes)

Tree covered steps

Tree covered steps

You can almost swing, Tarzan like, from the strong hanging branches

A dripping tree

A dripping tree

Wander down some more steps to where the Komodo dragon statues lurk

Komodo dragon statues

Komodo dragon statues

Meander alongside a stream that trickles over ancient mossy boulders

Walk along the boulder filled stream

Walk along the boulder filled stream

Come back up to the cemetery where dappled sunlight dances over the gravestones

How many monkeys can you spot among the gravestones?

How many monkeys can you spot among the gravestones?

then go up a different set of steps towards the main temple

Beautiful shaded pathways

Beautiful shaded pathways

I challenge you to walk carrying offerings on your head.  Balinese women do this all the time, often not even using a single hand to steady the baskets

Marvel at how Balinese women balance the offerings on their heads

Marvel at how Balinese women balance the offerings on their heads

They have just come from the main temple within the forest

Stunningly beautiful temple entrance

Stunningly beautiful temple entrance inside the forest

Once again there are two naga (snakes) entwined at the base on the steps, they are woven around the giant turtle.

Elsewhere yet another monkey looks like he’s either yawning or shouting out to friends, “hey come and look at this tourist taking a picture of my tail”.

A monkey yawning or calling out to friends?

A monkey yawning or calling out to friends?

my, what a long tail you have!

Siat Sampian – symbolic war

A few days before the ‘symbolic’ war, hundreds of women, carrying tall offerings (banten) on their heads, walk four kilometers to the temple.

Balinese women walking to the temple

Balinese women walking to the temple

The women are all dressed in the same coloured traditional clothing as they walk along roads closed to traffic.

Colourful traditional Balinese costumes

Colourful traditional Balinese costumes

They elegantly enter the temple gates at Samuan Tiga and walk down the steps, still balancing the heavy banten on their heads.

Entering the temple

Entering the temple

As the offerings get lined up inside the temple, you can clearly see the different fruit and pink and white cakes – the cakes also come in other bright colours too and the banten are laced with young coconut leaves and flowers for decoration.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese photos were taken over two days that I attended – of the eleven day festival!

The people kneel on the floor for the ceremony. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe temple is beautifully decorated with yellow and white material and umbrellas as well as black, white, yellow and red umul umuls (like tall flags).

Beautifully decorated temple

Beautifully decorated temple

Here a young boy is carrying the red umul umul.

Carrying the umul umuls

Carrying the umul umuls

Dressed in white, the women perform a sacred dance

Sacred dance

Sacred dance

And then, for Siat Sampian, they use arrangements of young coconut leaves.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASiat Sampian is hard to translate but effectively means symbolic fighting with coconut leaves and this only happens in this particular temple (although the Pandan Wars will happen later this month in the Bali Aga village of Tenganan – but that is different).Then the men, at least 300 of them, also dressed in white, start their performances/rituals…

300 men run around the temple

300 men run around the temple

After linking hands and running around the temple the 300+ men pick up the young coconut leaves and start the ‘symbolic war’.

Siat Sampian

Siat Sampian

Here they are using long poles in a warrior style dance format (similar to Baris Gede). OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASamuan Tiga is where groups from different faiths gathered together a 1000 years ago and came up with the idea of the 3 village temples (Pura Puseh, Pura Desa and Pura Dalem) – that satisfied each group and are still in every village (Desa) of Bali today.

There was more… but you have to ask me about it if you’re interested.

Once again, I felt very privileged and grateful to be able to attend such a special event.

Our journey through Lombok

We waved goodbye to the Gili islands

Bye bye Gili T

Bye bye Gili T

…so did the monkey

The look-out monkey

The look-out monkey

Driving back through Lombok, we stopped along the coastal road for petrol.

Fill her up for 10,000rp (70p)

Fill her up for 10,000rp (70p)

We decided to spend a night in Sengiggi and visit its famous temple, Pura Batu Bolong.

Pura means temple.  Whereas Batu Bolong translates as ‘hole in the rock’ – as you can clearly see…

Pura Batu Bolong (temple with a hole in the rock)

Pura Batu Bolong (temple with a hole in the rock)

Even the temple gateway entrance is impressive…

Steps to the temple perched on the cliff

Steps to the temple perched on the cliff

And the stairs look as if they will lead you straight up to the sky

Stairs to the sky

Stairs to the sky

Batu Bolong is perched right on the edge of a cliff next to the ocean.

Great views from the temple

It was far too warm for a jacket, but I wore it to cover my arms in the temple

It’s a Balinese Hindu temple, on the Muslim island of Lombok.

Facing the sacred volcano, Mount Agung, across the sea in Bali, it has the same overall views as from Gili T.

View across the ocean to Mount Agung, Bali

Sunset view across the ocean from Sengiggi, Lombok to Mount Agung, Bali

All Balinese temples are strikingly beautiful, and this one is no exception

Pura Batu Bolong

Pura Batu Bolong

It was all wrapped in sacred yellow and white cloth fluttering in the breeze.

Just look at the carvings depicting the turtle at the base and the two naga (snakes) above.

Look at the detail carved into the temple

Look at the detail carved into the rock hewn temple

This imagery also shows on Balinese cremation towers called Bade.  After all, the whole world sits on a turtles back, doesn’t it!?!

Yaniq sipping holy water

Yaniq sipping holy water after praying

Yaniq and I both prayed (this is something I never did before in England, but often do here!) and we stayed a while looking over the tranquil sea.

Temple by the sea

Temple by the sea

Visit my next blog post which will be about the south of Lombok with its Sasak culture and stunning views, see you then.

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