Uluwatu Temple and the Kecak Ramayana Fire Dance.

They say that every visitor to Bali should see at least one dance and if you plan to see only one then this should be it. The combination of ancient ritual, dance, humour, drama, sunset and cliff setting makes the Kecak Ramayana Fire Dance one of the most spectacular performances imaginable. Accompanied by a choir of chanting men with it truly is a special memory that will stay with you long after you leave. You need to arrive around 5pm ( aim earlier as it gets sold out most evenings and traffic can get hectic on the way up the Bukit. Under an hour from Kuta, make your way to one of the most famed Temples on the island. There are loads of monkeys hence our local friend Suweni made the boys a scary stick to keep them at bay. Don’t take food, bananas sunglasses etc as they are well known for taking these from you. have ever if they do a sneaky cookie or something could make them drop your possessions for the treat. You need to pay around 10 000 donation to the temple for a sash and sarong which you need to return. You then can go in and explore the temple, the specially built monkey pool and walk along the tragic cliff edge where 100’s of Balinese ended their lives rather than be ruled by the Dutch many years ago. However don’t leave it too late to head to stunning amphitheatre to grab your seats. Set high on the cliff top, this is truly a moving experience with the priest blessing the performance prior to the show commencing. There was actually a storm brewing out to sea tonight so it was incredibly dramatic as the sun set and rain clouds swirled. The chanting men were mesmerising , the costumes elaborate and the white monkey Hanoman hilarious, be warned he may pick on you! my boys were absolutely fascinated with the show, with love, large knives and dancing and humour. Will Hanoman make it out of the fire alive ? that is the question ??? It is a fantastic show that lasts around 50 minutes I highly recommend it !

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Selamat Hari Raya Galungan dan Kuningan.

One of the most festive and celebrated Bali Hindu holidays after Nyepi, is Galungan, which occurs every 210 days and always on Wednesday. This 10 day celebration is where most of the island return to their village and celebrates with family and friends. You will see these pretty penjors being erected all across the island in celebration. The Bali Hindu holiday marks a time when family spirits return to the earth and are expecting to be entertained by significant feasts and rituals. Everyone dresses up in their finest traditional costumes and they feverishly clean their family compounds, clean their scooters and head off to temples to make offerings. Traditionally a pork offering is made to the temples and spicy “lawar’ dishes are shared. You may notice some business are closed and also roads are blocked off for processions. An awesome time to be in Bali to witness and particularly to photograph these celebrations which are completed with Kuningan.

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Tumpek Pengatag ~ blessings for the grass, trees, crops and plants.

Today is Tumpek Pengatag, where the Balinese Hindus celebrate and bless the plants and trees. This is held 25 days before Galungan on the Balinese calendar. Balinese Hindus give their offerings to plants as an expression of gratitude for the food and many roles plants play to assist in life.
Blessings take place all over the island throughout villages and temples, with people creating arrangements of flowers and fruits as offerings. Whether Hindu or not – Tumpek Pengatag is a day to remind all people to respect, take care of, and live in harmony with nature .

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Tumpek Landep ~ Blessings for all things metal, tools and particularly the mind.

Today Balinese Hindus celebrate Tumpek Landep. Saying thanks to all metal tools and objects and praying for a sharper mind. Balinese believe the greatest weapon is their mind, they wish for more intelligence, to overcome their enemy and objects in life such as poverty and bad choices. You may notice hand made ‘sampian’ decorating motorbikes, cars, even gym equipment and ceremonies and offerings to say thanks Xxx

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Saraswati ~ The Goddess of Knowledge and Learning.

Selamat Hari Raya Saraswati. Today Bali Hindus celebrate and recognise the Goddess of knowledge Saraswati. She is the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, arts and nature. She is symbolised with four hands representing 4 elements of human personality in learning including the mind, intellect, alertness and ego. She wears all white which represents purity and rides on a white swan. Here is my friends little daughter Viona ready for For her Saraswati Ceremony.

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Bali Hindu Offerings ~ Canang Sari

Did you know the offerings you see everywhere are part of the daily Balinese Hindu rituals, are all hand made every day in their 1000’s ? Usually by the Ibu ( mothers). They can be purchased for around 10 000 Rupiah ready made, however if made from scratch a lot cheaper. We were curious to learn what they meant and the significance of all of the parts which make these beautiful offerings. While at the Denpasar markets grabbing some fruit we brought all the items needed and were taught how to make them. What I have learnt is that there are various interpretations of the meaning behind them and perhaps a little lost in translation. One theory is that they are a “Thank you symbol” for peace given to the world. The word “Canang” is originally from the Kawi Language and means “beautiful purpose”. Canang Sari has some major components which include symbolising the three major Gods in Hinduism. Shiva , Vishnu and Brahma. Canang sari are set in a tray made from palm leaf as a symbol of Ardha Candra. They are overlaid by flowers placed in a specific direction. Each direction symbolizes a Hindu God:
White-colored flowers lay in the east as a symbol of Iswara
Red-colored flowers placed in the south as a symbol of Brahma
Yellow-colored flowers placed in the west as a symbol of Mahadeva
Blue or green colored flowers put in the north as a symbol of Vishnu
A canang sari is completed by placing amount money on the top , this is said to make up the essence (the “sari”) of the offering. Incense is lit and holy water sprinkled during the prayer process.107114120143146167

Melukat Di Sebatu ~ Karmic Cleansing Ritual

After some really unfortunate events occurring this past year for me, a Balinese Hindu friend suggested we head on out to Sebatu ( about 10 minutes from Ubud) for a Melukat purification ceremony. I’m of no particular religion and I really didn’t want to impose, however after being reassured we would be welcomed we decided to go on the adventure. We packed appropriate traditional attire and had all our required offerings, it was a full moon which adds more power to the ceremony. I gave some of the locals a giggle when I got changed in the car park rather than down near the water however on we pressed down a few hundred stairs ( one guy laughing as he told us there were 700 of them). We knelt down and prayed with a small flower 3 times, we waved the incense, we then lined up and walked on the slippery pebbles, in the icy cold water. After inquiring if I could just splash myself a little, I was told no I need to get into it entirely I held my breath and lay back. We then submerged ourselves under the freezing waterfall and then once truly cleansed we went and repeated the prayer ritual ( I didn’t drink the water as others were doing). We changed ( definitely not for shy people as there are not private facilities) into our traditional attire and returned to pray once more and provide the appropriate offerings. The water at times goes dark and murky and this represents the negativity leaving the body. We were so cold and a little overwhelmed and forgot to look at the colour of the water. I am looking forward to seeing how my cleansed karma pans out. This is not really a tourist attraction as such as you need to prepare all the required offerings to participate. It would also not be appropriate to just observe as at this particular place its a pretty confined area. It is not suitable if you are not particularly fit or are elderly due to the many slippery stairs to climb. It was an amazing adventure and very emotional for me to be a part of and I am extremely grateful. If you have some Balinese Hindu friends perhaps ask them if they could take you in small groups if you are particularly interested. There are a few other water temples around the island where you can also particpate in this ritual.
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Taman Nusa Cultural Park

For those of you who love a bit of history and culture,  you might enjoy the new Taman Nusa Cultural Park ( just near the Bali Safari Park)  which aims to offer comprehensive information on the cultures of Indonesia’s various ethnic groups.  You can see Indonesia in one Afternoon! It offers  comprehensive information on the cultures of Indonesia’s various ethnic groups in an attractive and interactive way, and is situated on 15 hectares of land.  Visitors are invited to explore and experience Indonesia’s journey throughout the ages beginning from the prehistory, bronze age, kingdoms, and an archipelago of Indonesian cultures. The journey continues to the early national era, independence, modern times and finally to the nation’s future. For more details check out the website.

http://www.taman-nusa.com/?page_id=1548

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Saraswati

Happy Saraswati Day to my Bali Hindu friends ~ today you celebrate and devote to the Goddess of Art, knowledge, literature and books. Saraswati is the Goddess of Knowledge, symbolized by a beautiful woman with four hands, riding on a white swan among water lilies to tell humanity that science is like a beautiful woman. Her hands hold a palm leaf; a lontar, (a Balinese traditional book which is the… source of science or knowledge); a chain (genitri with 108 pieces) symbolising that knowledge is never ending and has an everlasting life cycle; and a musical instrument (guitar or wina) symbolising that science develops through the growth of culture. The swans symbolise prudence, so that one’s knowledge may distinguish between good and evil and the water lilies (Lotus) are symbols of holiness.
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