Wednesday, July 15

Bali beauty

Hindu daily offerings, Banten, are a major part of balinese life, offerred 3 times a day and i have developed a bit of an obsession with them. They are platters, plates, bowl woven from strips of banana leaf and used to hold various offerings of flowers and food. These tiny offerings are made to appease the gods and demons and to honour the cycle of daily life. Every Hindu house has a temple; a giant structure, sometimes a whole compound of its own with many components, erected to honour family gone. The banten are placed everywhere here; in front of doorways, tucked into wall spaces, at the temple, even on the unused hotplate on the gas stove top.
Its beautiful, symbolic and deep with meaning and tradition. The main symbol of balinese Hinduism is the swastika,
found on the front a many temple gates and its taken me a while to accept it in aother, less sinister manner. I cant imagine what it must be like to live life according to such strict, aesthetic routine. Everyone gets changed into sarong and sash for the ritual of placing banten. Its a romantic notion for me. The shredded pandanus, that seems to be a staple of these banten, whirls around its incredible aroma every evening when the breeze lights up, and sends me to paradise as pandanus is one of the high note scents from the gods. Another offering to the gods which i think is just simply brilliant are the kites.
Not for the tourists folks, these enourmous flying pieces of art are also gifts to the gods and are flown just as a matter of course. I have seen a few being made on our warung road by men sitting on the street side and then a few days later... bingo! they're up above and darting around, anchored to a great clump of grass on the roadside.

At any given time we have about 6 flying above 'our house'. It really is no wonder Bali is such a popular place. Despite the tourist strips, you dont have to travel far to see the real Bali and be included in it. Yesterday on our way home from the waves we came across a huge procession about 150 strong of people clad in white, walking along the beach with gamelan playing. A cremation procession and ceremony was underway.
Gilded yellow and white umbrellas with ornate tassels and elaborate tasselated poles with many ornaments were carried and placed in the sand. A huge mound of multi storied banten covered a raised platform which i assumed covered a body. It was very beautiful. I have always loathed the western modern funeral which doesnt serve to comfort but fills me with dread. I didnt take any photos.
I have spent the last few days seriously contemplating on the throne and am only starting to feel a little better. Its put a bit of a dampner on things, but drugs appear to helping!


Veggie Gnome said...

Beautiful, beautiful! Bali is such a magical place. Thank you for reminding me of the smells, sights and wonders of Balinese every day life.

Now, isn't it time you got off the throne? :)

Jen said...

Lovely post Kel....I didnt realise that the kites were also a form of worship and offering... That makes them even more lovely as symbolsas well as objects of beauty

Annuska said...

Did you post a kite picture? I cannot imagine any of the ones there air-borne- I would love to see one!

Sarah said...

Hi Kel,

When you are back from your holiday please email me privately. I would really like to chat about a comment you left on my blog. I could do with your wise words/wisdom and experience (grin)


Katrine said...

Your photos tell such a wonderful story. It hadn’t occurred to me before that Bali is a beautiful place to visit behind the tourist strip … you’ve opened my eyes once again! :)

kale for sale said...

For a few minutes I was there. Thank you. Don't you love that the daily offerings can just be swept off anywhere and consumed by an animal or composted at the end of the day. I'm glad you're feeling better.

Kel said...

veggie- bali is a beautiful place! btw-still on the throne-its a stayer this bug!

jen- the masses of kites grew after you left-it was gettin crazy up there!

annuska- i have on Flickr some pics- pc issues while away so kite pic upload didnt happen for this post!

sarah- sure. hope you are getting some sleep!

katrine- lol- glad to be of service! like anywhere, you just have to step back from the tourist parts and you can find the essence. Bali is beautiful and i recommend a visit as its so rich in culture that is practiced daily and still very traditional in how pople live

kale- yes, thats exactly what i loved about them-temporary offerings that are all about beauty and the art of giving-its incidental once they are placed that dogs eat them and people tread on them-its a part of the process.