Within Indonesia, Bali is an island that has its own distinct culture. Bali, with the majority of its inhabitants practicing Hinduism, and Java, with a larger Muslim population, were completely different. Our visit to Bali happened to coincide with a holiday. We got to participate in a village ritual, enjoy a comedic dance performance called Prembon at the temple, and eat meals from a street vendor.
Original kecak dance production Cak Rina
This original kecak piece is performed only on full moons and new moons. It’s performed on an outdoor stage, by the light of torches only. There is no dialogue or background music, only the voices of about 50 men vocalizing “cak.” The stage is packed.
Performers kick fireballs with their barefoot. Very close to the audience.
There are children too.
Most of the audience members are foreigners. They’re super into it.
I thought it would be very ritualistic, but it was pretty showy and was clearly meant to be a tourist pleaser. The “cak” rhythm was divided into complex parts. The vocalizations mixed with the sounds of insects and the wind created an enigmatic world.
This was the scene we saw at our study session!
They make music to the performers’ movements. The guy playing the kendang (Balinese drum) acts as the concertmaster. The sounds are completely different from Java!
Intense middle-aged men dressed as a princess and her lady-in-waiting. Their act feels like stand-up comedy.
A child climbs on-stage to catch a glimpse.
Garbage collects here.
People are clustered at the side of the stage too.
Performers climb into the house and bring audience members onto the stage!
Sonoda is targeted.
“Ha ha ha, they always go after tourists.”
After this, Endo is brought onto the stage.
Most of the audience members are locals. Clearly, adults and children alike looked forward to this performance. Their attention is incredible!! It was like entire families glued to the TV.
Festival on Bali Island
During festival periods of “Galungan” and “Kuningan” (akin to obon period in Japan) all the houses in the village are decorated. The ornaments are made of bamboo crafts and each household has a different shape. There are simple ones to gorgeous towers and everything in between. Households with a bride display two.
Balinese formal wear
Very stylish and made from a lot of fabric. Tools for prayer and offerings
Kebaya blouse made of translucent fabric like lace
Children and adults are dressed the same
A lot of people use this bag
Sarong, a wrap made of one long piece of fabric
This decoration is called penjor and it symbolizes the holy mountain of Agung. At the base of the penjor, there is a box to place offerings of fruit, bread, flowers, rice, meals and even bags of snacks, and it’s usually packed full.
Offerings to evil spirits are placed directly on the ground.
Because they are where people walk, they’re completely flattened out. But apparently that’s OK.
Everything is homemade by the mothers of each household!
How to pray
Hinduism in Bali
Purify the hands and face with smoke from incense
Pray with flower petals held between the fingers.
Real colorful flowers with white, pink, yellow, red and blue flower petals are the tools for prayer!
Used flowers are fastened to the head.
Men fasten them to their udeng or tuck them behind their ears.
Women fasten them in their hair. (There weren’t any women with short hair!)
Receive holy water on the head.
Like a bundle of bamboo
Receive holy water in the hands, drink, and apply to the head.
The holy water tasted like jasmine tea.
Receive rice and press in between the head and collarbones.
Then massage into head!!
You go home just as you are, so all day you are shedding rice and flower petals from your body.
Rice stuck all day.
In Bali there are many prayers everyday. I could feel the deities as a close presence in life. I thought that is how traditions that are part of festival rituals have remained protected and deeply rooted in peoples’ lives as part of daily life.