|Priests sprinkling water and rice|
|Girls perched on shoes|
The temple was awash with color: lacy ladies garments, masses of flowers and colorful offerings; bangles, earrings and hair decorations flashed in the sunlight. Amid this splendor, mangy Balinese dogs snuffled around looking for crumbs - lean and lanky, scruffy and scowling, they slink around watching and waiting for the opportunity to knock something over and abscond with a morsel.
|Bali dog and me in a stare down.|
A moment of silence; even the dogs looked up and cocked their heads. A rustling while 50 girls from 7 to 17 stood, arranged themselves in a line and began the temple dance marked by slow bowing movements and exotic twisting turns of the hands and wrists. Most Balinese women are blessed with beauty - gorgeous caramel skin, massive amounts of glossy black hair, even teeth - filed off in the puberty ritual - and perfect posture. Carrying loads on head from an early age results in straight backs, perfect balance and sure footing. Round the offering tables the conga line snaked. I spotted a girl with Down syndrome in the group - the first I've seen on this island where people mostly marry and have children while they're young.
At some cue, a prayer begins: a low thrumming sound of every voice blended together in a single tone. Western religions clutter up prayers with mere words, prattling on and on. This sound seems a better idea to me, surely more acceptable to a God ear, low, peaceful, calm, thankful.
At ceremonies end, priests circulated through temple, sprinkling holy water on heads and dropping a few grains of rice into our outstretched hands, some for eating, some for pressing on the forehead. We all paraded out happily to the sounds of the reassembled gamelan band.
Quite a few people came up and talked with us. The banjar is small and they have seen us walking up the road and taking pictures around the town. Everyone knows everyone and everything and there was lots to talk about as our villa (the one we are renting) was sold yesterday, sight unseen to a Russian musician - he came by in the morning with a translator, saw the outside of all three of the villas in this complex and the inside of only one - made his full price offer ($450,000) which was accepted immediately; the money was wired and in the bank by days end. Our Australian owner is delighted as the villas have been on the market for 8 months. Russian investment around the island is apparently on the move or is this some kind of money laundering? Sight unseen?
|More temple offerings|