Bali will always be an enigma. A juxtaposition between sekala and niskala, the seen and the unseen or the material world and the spiritual.
The reason the Balinese are not always present, a little bit of head in the clouds, is because their mind ponders frequently on their next ceremony. Offerings, prayer, dance and dramas, the chance to dress up and catch up with community and friends make ceremonies major feel good times that can’t be missed.
Ceremonies take a lot of energy – of organisation and sorting days off work and the need to find the money to pay for the increasingly extravagant displays of devotion to their gods.
Mystical mythical creatures, stand side-by-side with barongs, superb dancers and priests and pedandas. Colour and spectacle are almost mandatory.
It is what keeps the island buzzing with an energy that even we foreigners tend to absorb when we stay here long enough. New visitors can tend to interpret this energy as a license to go wild and maybe a little debauched and together with the sudden increase of freedom and release of the binding structures they may have in their own country, it can be overwhelming. For the Balinese it is more a matter of staying connected with the spirit and controlling the emotions. What a difference in the ways of thinking.
Ceremonies vary across the island but here are some highlights from various villages, who all celebrate in different ways.