Ailsa’s challenge this week was BEACHES
Archive for the ‘Bali’ Category
This week’s photo challenge from the Daily Post is ‘up’
In today’s challenge we want you to grab an image from your world that holds the promise or portent of the future. It could be:
As everyday as the experience of waiting for a bus or train.
As abstract as something that symbolizes your ambitions or hopes for the future.
A note, prayer or promise jotted on a napkin or cross-stitched with exquisite tenderness.
The promise or portent of spring, sunrise, or storm in nature.
A street candid of someone nervously waiting on their date to arrive.
A piano falling from a third storey flat into the oncoming path of an adorable kitten. Or any other action about to take place.
Anything that involves the present and a hint of the future all in one frame.
We spend so much of our lives thinking back, or looking ahead, and even though a photo captures only one moment in time, with a bit of thought it can freeze the process of moving forward, or the promise of things to come. Your challenge this week is to seal one such moment in amber.
I’ve chosen to share some photos taken in Sri Lanka, Bali and Turkey.
Poya or Poya Day is the name given to a Buddhist public holiday in Sri Lanka which occurs every full moon day. Men, women and children flock to the temples to leave offerings of flowers to Buddha.
Every good Buddhist is expected to make the pilgrimage to the temple of the sacred tooth relic in Kandy at least once in their lifetime. The inner sanctum containing this holiest of relics is only opened for 20 minutes twice a day and people queue for hours for a chance to file past and catch a glimpse of the casket which contains it.
Many Asian people believe in the protection provided by the spirit world and Sri Lanka is no exception.
There is a great tradition of mask carving here and many buildings will have a mask of one or other of the spirits fixed somewhere to protect the building and the people living or working inside it. One of the most popular ones is that of the peacock spirit. These are a selection of masks we saw in the mask museum at Ambalangoda.
In Bali it’s hard to avoid stepping on offerings as there as so many of them everwhere. Creating them is considered an artform and they are designed to be as appealing as possible.
when a child reaches the age of 2 a little boat with a flower offering on board is sent out to sea to wish him/her well in the future
carrying baskets of offerings on their heads the people make their way to the temple
In Turkey too, the famous blue and white beads are incorporated into decorations for protection against the evil eye and are displayed in homes and businesses
Jake’s challenge is ‘bay’
I’ve found a new challenge: hosted by Sue Llewellyn aka Skinnywench. This is what she says about it: “Every Monday I will dip into my old English Oxford dictionary and pick a word on the page that it falls open at. The challenge is to post a photograph, poem, story – whatever the genre you like best to describe what that word means to you.
It would be nice if you could link back to my challenge page so others can take part if they wish and because I’m lovin the posts of bloggers who pick up the gauntlet, because they are so good and many have put so much effort into them I am also going to reblog one or two other participants entries a week to share with you all. I’ve been missing some posts so it would be really helpful if you could add a tag called ‘a word a week challenge’ so I can read and share.”
Her chosen word for this week is “celebration”.
Bali is a deeply spiritual island and I wasn’t prepared for the degree to which spirituality invades everyday life. It was this aspect of Bali that made the most impression on me and it was impossible to escape it, even if you wanted to. I was also struck by the huge variety of offerings available. A gift to a higher being must look attractive so each offering is a work of art.
The basic form is fresh food arranged on a palm leaf and crowned with a palm leaf decoration and the making of these offerings provides employment for many women. This is the scene at Denpasar central market,
but individuals also make the offerings in their own homes
Each market stall in the central market at Denpasar has its own shrine
where there are stalls selling decorations for shrines as well as the brightly coloured baskets used for carrying offerings to the temples. This one incorporates fake coins into its decoration.
Individual shops also have their own shrines.
You can hardly walk a dozen paces without coming across an offering of some sort, quite often placed on the ground
in front of a shop or a house or piled into special baskets
or left at road side shrines or in front of any of the other shrines.
Nobody worries whether or not they step on these offerings as they are frequently cleared up the feral dog population or birds. Offerings can be made at any time of day or better still, several times a day.
There are shrines of all sizes every few metres and it’s difficult for a foreigner like me to be able to distinguish between a temple complex and a house because every house has a house shrine incorporated into its construction.
Everyone dresses in their best to go to the temples, the women wear kebayas – blouses either with elaborate cutwork decoration or see-through lacy fabric over a sort of camisole top, partnered with gaily coloured sarongs with matching sashes.
They balance baskets of offerings on their heads or pyramids of fruit in baskets
One day on the beach I came across a special festival for the children. I asked one of the ladies participating if she could explain what it was all about and she told me that it was a ceremony for chasing away the bad and welcoming in the good. Our host later told me about this festival. The first part takes place when a child is 3 months old – up until that time they must not be placed on the ground but always kept in the air – effectively this means that they are always carried by their mother or another relative. After the ceremony they are allowed on the ground. It takes place again when they are three years old and the child kicks the little boat with its foot. Apparently houses have to be completely cleaned before this ceremony takes place. The main part of the ceremony would take place a couple of days later but in the privacy of their own homes.
Some of the offerings and decorations piled up ready for this festival
Local tourist offices provide information regarding dates and locations of public cremations and foreigners are welcome to attend.
Funerals are extremely expensive affairs so families will generally bury the body in a simple casket and wait until they have saved up enough to participate in a public funeral. Once the date is fixed, the body will be disinterred and taken to the cremation area. Huge propane powered torches will be on hand to facilitate the cremation process.
(*the bull figure which we had seen a couple of days previously definitely had an extended sexual organ with a string attached to it).
In another article I read “The tower containing the remains is taken to the cremation ground. Depending on the size of the ceremony, either the eldest son or a priest stands on the tower holding a ‘paradise bird’ which will guide the spirit to heaven”.
As we got back into the car I noticed that the female passenger in the car next to ours had a stuffed bird of paradise on a stand on her lap, which must have been used during an earlier part of the ceremony.
funerals are also another occasion for mass offerings in the form of fruit, flowers and food.
(there is a very complete and interesting article about funerals here http://www.balivision.com/Article_Resources/Cremation.Asp)
Westerners can visit some of temples provided they wear a sarong and a sash or are suitably dressed (no shorts, strapless tops, etc) although they may not enter on festival days (invariably when the temples look their best).
We visited several different types of temple (sea, lakeside and local village temples) as well as one of the mother temples (considered one of the most important on the island) perched on the edge of the crater of Mount Batur (a not-quite extinct volcano).
The entrance steps are guarded by these ferocious (?) creatures
detail of carving
main courtyard area
the design of the temples (and houses) follows very strict guidelines, the most important of which is that the mountains or high ground are always behind the building to protect it from the sea, which is considered dangerous.
more decorations and fruit pyramids
Here follows a miscellany of photos I took at various temples near where we were staying. This first one is the road sign indicating the presence of a temple (it features the typical split gate) that is common to all temples.
This sculpture is made of the black volcanic basalt. The turtle represents the world and he carries everything on his back
one of the lakeside temples on a misty day
it’s a popular place for couples to have their wedding photos taken
a shrine figure next to a guest house we stayed in, note the jaunty flower behind its ear
one of the shrine figures in the grounds where our friend has his apartment. The “skirts” are changed on a regular basis depending on the different festivals
we often saw these “flags” but unfortunately I have no idea what they represent
brightly coloured representations of human figures adorn this shrine
offerings outside the entrance to a temple
a new skirt
detail of a carving. The figure is typically depicted with a good set of teeth and outstretched hands
another brightly decorated temple entrance
these colourful parasols – usually red or yellow – were everywhere
I was hoping to be able to buy some of these hearts but didn’t find anywhere selling them. I think I’ll just have to make my own.
Bali is the odd one out in the Indonesian archipelago of 17,000 islands in that its main religion is Balinese Hinduism as opposed to the Muslim religion practised in the other islands.
Memories that will remain forever are those of kites flying high in the skies in the windy months of July and August, offerings and shrines everywhere, cheap taxis, and a huge selection of inexpensive restaurants serving everything from babi gulling (the local roast suckling pig speciality), through Malay vegetarian cuisine, Greek, Spanish, French, Chinese, Indian, etc. etc.
We were staying at a place called Seminyak, south west of Denpasar, the capital, with a friend who has retired there and has lived there for the last 4 years. Most people go to Bali, we discovered, for surfing and diving and most of them stay in the main resort of Kuta (fortunately not right on our doorstep). G’s apartment was just 5 minutes walk from the beach. The beaches are dangerous (which is why they are so good for surfing) as the waves and currents are strong; there are regularly accidents involving swimmers.
Beaches are important spiritual places as many temple ceremonies take place on the beach if there is a sea temple nearby. The temple at Seminyak is one of the sea temples. Beaches are important meeting places where people go to relax in the evening and at weekends. Exercise classes are also organised on them.
This is another favourite beach activity – kite flying
It has been so difficult to work out how best to describe what we saw and how to categorise the pictures that I have divided my posts up as follows:
click on the links above to go to the relevant posts.
Away from the hustle and bustle of city life in the capital of Denpasar, life goes on in the countryside as it must have done for generations. Terraced rice paddies where ducks paddle and splash, groves of banana, orchards of small bitter oranges like tangerines, mangoes, spices, coffee, and coconuts.
Farming on the valley floor near Mt Agung (an extinct volcano)
terraced rice fields
kite flying in the paddy fields
flooded paddy fields
ducks in the paddy fields
lots more ducks, this time in a paddy field that has already been harvested
water pumpkins growing on a vine; apparently they don’t taste of much but are used to fill out stews, etc.
a coffee bush. As the bushes are very sensitive to strong sun they are always planted under trees like mango or cacao to protect them
cloves, these are still in the early stages of growth and will later turn red
whole nutmegs in their shells (left) cinnamon in its natural form when it has just been stripped off the tree (centre), in dried form (right)
a star fruit tree
a chempadek fruit (member of the jackfruit family)
snake fruit, so called because their skin looks like snakeskin. I had a nasty allergic reaction when I tried these.
Before going to Bali and coincidentally reading the book “Nathaniel’s Nutmeg” I hadn’t realised that the Indonesian archipelago were the original spice islands. The English and Dutch raged a long and bloody battle to gain power over these islands and the valuable trade in spices (particularly cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg) carried out by the British and Dutch East India Companies. The Dutch proved the more powerful and remnants of their occupation can be seen in the north of the island (which we didn’t get to).