Have I arrived onto a set of an Indian Jones movie? No, though this is definitely where Hollywood found much of its imagery. Where I am is in Bali visiting one of many temples. Bali is primarily Hindu, though the Hinduism is mixed with Animism and Buddhism.
Bali is the size of Prince Edward Island. There are hundreds and hundreds of temples in Bali and that's not including the temples in everyone's house or compound. There seem to be non-stop ceremonies - weddings, cremations, temple birthdays. A festival to invite the gods down to visit; another to see them off again. We see women constantly weaving palm leaves to make offerings and men building yet another bamboo structure to hold the offerings. Both men and women have grains of cooked rice stuck to their foreheads and necks - signs that they have just come from a ceremony. Groups of boys march through the streets of the town banging drums accompanied by a two person Barong puppet - a serpent/lion/dragon creature. The set up of the houses and compounds is all done in a particular alignment to the sacred mountains of Bali. Many of the temples are built around sacred trees. Traffic intersections and public parks have gigantic concrete statues of gods from the Ramayana. The glorious Balinese gamelan music originates in the temples as does much of the exquisite Balinese dancing.
Clearly religion is a very central and dominant force in Bali. On one hand, I'm flabbergasted by the amount of time and resources given over to worship. We have heard that sometimes people's jobs are affected by the amount of time required by the social and religious obligations. I wonder about the person who wants a different way of life. On the other hand I'm greatly admiring of a culture where art and beauty are so firmly woven into the central fabric of the society via the religion. I'm also struck with the general demeanour of the people. To the outside eye there is a marked easiness and a confidence about the Balinese. I wonder if their religion is the source of this contentment.
Almost by definition other people's religions are difficult to understand. Twenty nine days here as a tourist is giving me only the merest glimpse into a very different and ancient belief system. A belief system encompasses all of how you see the world. Much of the meaning here is far beyond my ken. Yet, I find connections: I too have my demons, though I haven't given them such concrete forms as the Balinese. I understand the idea of a daily offering. How can I not be awe struck by a culture where you can reach the ears of the gods with the spiritual act of flying kites!
- Posted using BlogPress from his iPad
Location:Batukaru Mountain, Bali