Tuesday, March 18, 2014


The local temple in the village of Bentuyung, where I currently reside, can justifiably boast about the talent of its members.  Every Friday and Sunday evening, a group of its members, from young to old, don costumes and dramatic face makeup and stage a perfectly wonderful performance of traditional Balinese dances.

These two young boys who were milling about before the start of the performance perfectly illustrate the vibrancy of the costumes.

The orchestra that accompanies the dance is called a gamelan, and this one was comprised of different sizes of xylophones, woodwinds, and some drums.

The dancers were all young, but the orchestra members were men of varied ages.

This was my favorite dance,  the dance of the teal duck.

This giant xylophone was brought onto the stage for the final dance.

It was a great performance, and I was only sad that there wasn't a larger crowd to enjoy it, only about 15 or 20 people.  The tourists in Ubud have many choices for dance performance, and getting to this village requires the extra cost of transportation.

The next evening, I was back at the temple with Kadek to witness a special ceremony to honor one of the Hindu gods.  Kadek loaned me a sarong and sash, the required clothing to enter the temple.  On the walk to the temple, there were dozens of women with baskets on their heads filled with offerings of food, flowers, and paper symbols for the gods.  The baskets were placed on shelves in the temple to be blessed by the holyman.

The ceremony was pretty confusing.  There were a number of things happening simultaneously--the holyman was blessing all the offerings, there were different dances by separate groups of young girls and men, a puppet show told some religious story, and in the midst of all this activity, groups of women sat on the ground in rows chatting away with each other while the men stood around the perimeter doing the same.  None of it seem to be connected.

Next to the temple, there was a percussion orchestra in the area where the dance performance had been held the night before.  There were men dressed in costumes there giving some kind of performance, the significance of which remains a mystery to me because I couldn't understand Kadek's explanation.

All in all, it was an interesting but mysterious experience.  Kadek's English isn't adequate for explaining more complicated aspects of her culture.  Sometimes she can't understand my questions.  But she's a lovely woman who clearly has a very active spiritual life.

I grow more fond of Kadek and her family as they continue to draw me into their daily life and village activities.

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