Asian Diaries Chapter Eight
Shortly after I got here, the Balinese celabrated Nepie, which is their New Years. The Day before, in the morning , they had a large ceremony where priests prayed, people sang, they played the gamalan ( a gong orchestra), and they sacrificed a pig, a cow ,some ducks and chickens. One lady had an elaborate display on a plate that she carried on her head, consisting entirly of animal guts and entrails cut into exqisate designs , most charming. That night there was a large parade through town, where they had built 2 story tall monsters that they carried on large bamboo platforms. At each cross roads they spun the monsters around so as to confuse them and then did a dance with them at the main corner of town. This is done so as to draw the bad energy away from the town and to cleanse the inner and outer cosmos. After the parade the monsters are burnt or left to rot in the elements. The next day is a day of silence. No one is allowed out , the Balinese are supposed to fast and meditate. They can't turn on any lights, or light any fires. I spent the day with a friend at her hotel as she had a pool , so we just relaxed and enjoyed ourselves.
I met a nice Balinese man shortly after that and have been hanging out with him ever since. He has taken me to all sorts of places off the beaten track, which has been great.I have been to some traditional Balinese villages and got to meet a medicine man at one of them. I had burnt my leg on the motorcycle muffler the day before and he put some oil on it and it healed perfectly in 3 days. I don't think I will even have a scar! I went to my friends village in North Bali for 5 days and stayed in his familys compound( along with his grandparents, parents, 3 brothers, 2 aunts, 3 uncles and multiple nieces and nephews, and cousins. It was very interesting to see a whole family living together like that. On the 16th of April, his village had a large festival for the 1st full moon after Nepie. I got to participate, which was very cool. The 1st day the whole village dressed up in Sarongs and we all walked about 4 km to the ocean in a big parade with all their gods carried on platforms, and gamelon bands playing. I was the only white person in a group of about 8 thousand Balinese and all dressed up like a Hindu to boot, so needless to say I got a lot of looks and a ton of people wanted to say Hi and ask where I come from.His village is off the tourist track so I guess I was the entertainment for the day. At the beach the Gods were all blessed and many offerings and prayers were made to them. Everybody hung around for several hours eating and gambling and just milling about in general, then we all paraded back to town. The next night we went to the main temple in town to pray. I have to say this is a very wet religion, only in a hot country could they do this. First at the temple gate, you are splashed liberally over the head with Holy water.Once inside, we sat on the ground with thousands of other people. We lit incence in front of us, and listened to the priests say their bit, then we prayed 3 times with a different flower each time which you then tuck behind your ear. After that the priests come around and splash more water on your head, then pour water 3 times into your hand which you drink and then another handful which you splash over your head. I was soaked by the end of it all! It was amazing to be able to participate , this is such a beautiful religion.Afterwards we went to the beach and looked at the full moon and just enjoyed the scenery in general. I would love to build a house in his village (it's called Singarja). It is very friendly, no tourists, nobody tried to sell me a sarong the whole time I was there! The ocean is nice and calm there and I went swimming every day which was nice.
Tommorrow we are going to Kuta for the day. I would like to go pay my repects for the bombing that took place there last October. It has been a real shame how much that affected the economy here. This country is practically bancrupt now, between that, the war in Iraq and now the SARS scare, tourism is almost non-existant here now. I feel so sorry for these people. All I can say is I feel totally safe here, the people are beautiful and friendly, the climate is sweet and the prices are very cheap. If you are looking for a holiday I would urge you to come here. Well, Thats all I can think of to say now. I hope you have enjoyed my diarys as much as I have enjoyed writing them. I will be home in Canada on the 28th of April and look forward to seeing you all again. Peace and Love