One of the many things I love about Bali is the reverence the Balinese have for rituals. Bali is largely Hindu and along with that comes daily prayers (puja) and many other ceremonies that occur at different days and times of the year. Everywhere you walk in Bali you see the beautiful little offerings all over the streets in auspicious places, piled high in temples large and small and in sacred places in family homes, streets, hotels and businesses. These offerings are so intricate and each is a work of art itself. Ceremonies and rituals are an important part of every aspect of birth, death, life and significant stages and events in a persons life. Everything stops for ritual.
I have been walking along the streets of Kuta many times when suddenly the whole street is blocked off by police, a massive group of people dressed in ceremonial outfits come along, sit in the middle of the road, perform rituals and prayers, then move on and life goes on as usual. Everything and everyone must wait. Nyepi is another example. Nyepi is the Balinese new year and it is a day of silence in Bali. Absolutely nothing happens Nyepi. No cars, no people, no activity, no noise. There are only Pecalangs (Balinese security) walking around ensuring that nothing disturbs Nyepi. Guests cannot leave their hotels, people aren’t meant to cook, light and power is not supposed to be used, but there are allowances for tourists and some locals use power, but quietly and discretely. There are so many beautiful and significant rituals I have been privileged to observe and I always have a feeling of deep reverence and respect for this incredible culture.
The rituals go beyond religion though. Balinese people are incredibly skilled artisans, and the love and attention to detail that goes into their work is obvious everywhere you look, from wood carving, to stonemasons, jewellers and painters.
The way even the most simple homes and compounds are put together and maintained leaves me in awe. I have had the privilege of being invited into a few friends homes and the pride and love and attention they show for their environment is such a beautiful thing to see. Detailed paths made from pebbles, beautiful and simple gardens and gorgeous furniture create a loving and welcoming home.
One noise you hear all day and night in Bali is the sound of sweeping, they use hand made brooms and everything is kept immaculate, from the busiest shop in bustling Kuta to 5 star hotels. Everything is respected, cleaned and loved.
Food presentation is also a thing of beauty. Even my simple fruit plate of watermelon and pineapple this morning was cut with such elegance that it was almost a shame to eat it. I got a fabulous Nasi Goreng the other night for $3 from a Warung and the tomato and cucumber were intricately sliced and carefully placed in my take away container along with my lovingly presented rice. Rather than just diving into it as I usually would, it imbued in me a sense of thanks and respect for the food I was about to eat and for the people that created it.
I feel that a sense ritual is missing from my life and I think as Westerners and particularly Australians we most likely have never really had any to maintain. While I am here I am going to consider some small but meaningful rituals I can introduce into my daily life. Even the simplest of rituals can bring attention to the present moment, and inspire gratitude and appreciation.
I look forward to creating a time and space to stop, reflect, be grateful and appreciative for all that I am and all that I have.