Saturday, January 16, 2010

Good and Evil in Land of Bali

Being Hindu in the most populous Islamic nation on earth has seemed to provide definition to the culture of Bali. The forces of good and evil abide in every nook and cranny. Evil is a real force that must be dealt with seriously through various forms of worship. The Kris Dance which is an ancient dance tells the tale of evil befalling the various servants of the king. The mischevious monkey and his friend, the Tiger are watchers of the drama. The evil Warong is a shape shifter and a force to be reckoned with. It is only the goodness of those who battle and their great courage and strength that gives the tale a positive ending. However, it is clear that the victory is that of a battle and the war of good and evil will continue forever.

________The gregarious engineer can not help but make friends as he travels. He agreed to exchange emails with a young Muslim man from Lombok to assist him with his English and met a Balinese policeman traveling from his job in Lombok to a celebration at his temple in Bali. Of course, we were given details and invited to join the festivities. We spent several hours in awe of the majesty of the rituals. All the worshippers were welcoming and delighted with our photography. The little girls were particularly fun racing to see their images on the camera. Although there was much joyousness in the celebration it was apparent that the matters at hand were very serious.

Our last stop on that day was to a village that practices an ancient form of Hindu not practiced anywhere else. Until recent times the village was only visited by anthropologist and persons interested in the unusual double ikat weaving done in this village. Times do change and now for a few pennies an elder will guide you through the village and tell you a little about the culture. The bride and groom were just married in this village and we received a brief history of the purification rituals. Interestingly, the main form of entertainment is cock fighting. We were given a restrained demonstration with two long legged and fierce roosters who were most anxious to rip one another. It was very interesting but less so when our taxi driver told us his father lost all of the family land in a single cock fight.

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