22 jan. 2015

My first Ceremony

The day had just begun and we were more than prepared for our morning D class with a tricky moral sinking boat exercise and the whiteboard was filled with descriptions neatly written down just in time.

9.05...  9.15 ... 9.25... No students... 
Then, about 30 minutes later, when Ketut showed up, all dressed up in his sarong, we realize no students will show up today.Conclusion, Big Ceremony day!

Apparently this day is called Siwaratri Day (20th) , and is often referred to as the 'night of Siwa'. This is a day for self-examination and meditation which the Hindus of Bali pray for forgiveness of their earthly sins, and for support and strength from Siwa in order to reach their higher selves. During this day it is preferred if you do not eat nor drink, apparently because of a man who thousands years ago climbed a tree and got stuck there all night…
At least that is the elementary school version…

  This ceremony goes on all night, and during the day there are a lot to prepare. So the students had no school at all. But the day went on anyway and we were also ready for the afternoon class, in case some people actually would show up, and indeed, we got to teach three peaceful preschoolers! Wow, they really know the body parts if they really try.

 As the time past, we started to get more and more curious of the nights happenings, because you could feel a slightly changed atmosphere in the relaxed Balinese air. So several curious questions later, we were told that we actually could attend the ceremony at the village temple. And of course we were allowed to leave whenever, a relief for the most of us! Nyoman and Leony found sarongs for everyone and in a minute we all looked like believable good Balinese Hindus. At least that’s what we thought.

 A two minute car ride and we were there, actually attending a real ceremony, as definitely the only non-locals. The rain had started to poor down, and we sat together with Nyoman under huge tents on bamboo rugs, caught up in the moment. Admiring all the beautiful people dressed in white, or colorful shirts. Observing all the girls hairdos, which must have taken hours. Carefully watching the village government officials who sat to our right on a type of staircase, and of course the enormous statue decorated with who knows how many flowers. 

While I was people watching, people were certainly watching us. And photographing. Too bad, just when I thought I was one in the team… 

The minutes became hours and people did not really do much, and so we just sat. Apparently it was the “leader”, the priest, everyone was waiting for. And what do you say, nice people show up late? 

Late is not really a ting here anyways, as for many countries I’ve experienced so far. The importance of time in these cases are more of living in the moment, rather than being in time. Taking times as it comes, so to speak. Which doesn’t really make sense according to half of my brain. While the other half just loves the way they think and live. Tricky situation indeed.

 However, the priest suddenly arrived and the process of making the air clean and holy started with spreading water and rice around all the people. Everyone sat like a big family in, what Americans calls, Indian position and just observed. Three different men walked to one and all and blessed every single one who loyally was joining the ceremony. The turn came to me and I simply copied Nyomans actions straight of, by cupping my hands and drinking two hands of the holy  water, and poring one cup on my head. Then taking some rice and placing it on my forehead, behind my ears and on my chest, while all the silent and peaceful people had there hand in praying positions by the incents and flower offerings.

 I was amazed, and everyone just kept praying, repeatedly. Then, when you least expected it, the wonderful Balinese music was performed by an orchestra of young kids, playing all of the traditional Balinese instruments, which I sadly do not now by name, yet. There was praying, there was music, there was young stunning girls who danced their characteristic dance. There was food, there was joy and there was loads of smiles and happiness. 

My first Hinduism ceremony had it all. And a remarkable feeling of everyone doing something together, sharing experiences, gods, spirits and beliefs. It was pure and unreal.And something which can’t be captured by photos or caught on tape. Simply a feeling I will preserve in my mind. 

Now – Sleep. Taking a walk on the beach tomorrow at sunrise, most likely accompanied by the rosters.

Good night! 

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