Kadek, one of the staff at the T-House, invited us to join the local villagers for a ceremony last weekend. It was a ceremony for Kalangan, which is the final day of Galungan, a Balinese holiday celebrating the victory of dharma over adharma, and the time when the ancestral spirits visit the Earth.
The day before our visit to the temple we had a mad rush to find costumes suitable for us to wear, we needed to look the part. Luckily a family at the same villa went the week before and had bought some gear which they generously offered for us. Kadek then provided anything else we needed. They even had an outfit that fitted Casper!
The ceremony started at 8 am, so we woke early, giving time for Kadek to come over and help us to get dressed. The women wear a long-sleeved lacy top, sarong and sash. The men also wear a sarong of two layers and sash, usually a white shirt, plus a head cloth (udeng). We needed help putting on our sarongs, as it is a complex procedure, and you must get it right. The ceremony outfits are very colourful for women, and as Clare found out they love to mix colours and patterns that she would not consider good taste. A cultural difference?
Kadek also brought us a traditional ceremony meal called lawar, made from mixed vegetables (young jackfruit in this case) with chopped meat, vegetables, spices, and coconut, served with rice. Quite a spicy dish to have for breakfast.
We walked to the temple, getting many stares and giggles from the locals. We hurried so as not to be late, which was a challenge for Clare with her sarong wrapped so tightly so she could only take short steps, all while carrying Casper.
Once we arrived, we found a place near the back of the courtyard to sit. We weren’t sure what to do, and nothing much happened for quite a while… just waiting and checking out all the colourful outfits. I am sure there were more people checking us out though, particularly the kids.
It looked like the temple priest was doing something on the steps of the shrine in front of the crowd. Maybe he was blessing the water, as later he walked through the crowd and sprinkled water on everyone. We just followed everyone else, putting out our hands to catch the drops.
Kadek had given us a plate of flowers and incense (but no instructions about what to do with it). Some people (but not all) had placed theirs on the steps to the shrine. It provided Olive with some fun playing with the incense sticks while we waited.
The kids did very well during the waiting time. There was not a lot going on that would keep them interested, and the ground was not too comfortable. We noticed many people were sitting on their shoes!
After a while the same people came around and sprinkled water on us again, gave us some to drink and wipe on our heads. We finished with getting some rice to put on our forehead. We did not know why we did this, we just followed everyone else. Then it was over, everyone just left after this.
It was a great opportunity that we feel very fortunate to have been part of. We will have to buy our own costumes so next time we will be ready if the opportunity comes again. We hope so.