Thursday, October 15, 2009
This was meant to be a day of celebration in all the ways! Woke up to a beautiful sunshine, packed my camera and lenses and walked to the 7:00am Early Bird Yoga class.
The streets were different; Calmer definitely, because there wasn't the usual horde of noisy motorbikes and most shops were closed. Instead there were men outside of their homes, washing their cars or bikes before family rounds started. More beautiful, because all the galungan decorations were up, many more flower arrangements and offerings being placed by the penjors by women in elegant local dresses. Yummier because of the sweet smell of incense coming from every corner. More exciting, as behind that stillness it was impossible not to feel that a big celebration was about to commence very soon. I didn't know where and when the celebrations would start but hoped that I wouldn't miss much while I was in yoga. Couldn't have asked for more; as I was out of the class, walking towards home I saw the group of men in local dresses on the street. They were playing drums and cymbals, the music was almost meditative. Then I noticed that they were playing the music across a temple where the celebrations were held. Along with all the tourists who were not allowed to enter the temple I tried to shoot a few photos by the door (those are the moments I wish they sold lenses that can shoot through curves & corners)
I was told that anyone can attend the ceremonies in the streets, but in order to attend the ceremonies in the temples, one must have the exact Balinese costume. As most of the shops around Ubud were closed the day before, I was there without a costume and could only take peeks through the temple door.
There were the 3 spirits (Rangda, Barong Bangkung and Barong Macan) and a lot of chanting around them. I sat on the sidewalk across the road, listening to the drums. Then women with offering trays on their heads started to walk out of the temple, followed by the spirits.
The men playing music on the street followed them and soon it turned into a very colorful march. I followed them for a while, taking as many photos as possible. Then I heard a fainter sound of bells from the opposite direction, walking towards there, I saw a group of boys starting a similar ceremonial walk. They were lead by a spirit (later I learned that it was Barong Bangkal), and a small band playing music followed. I was told that this was a Ngelanawang (which is a playful door to door visiting, instead of a more religious ritual) They visited almost every house on the street danced in front of it and collected small money, while a big group of tourists including me chased them around. The boys must have started to feel like local celebrities, as towards the end, they were got comfortable and started posing for the cameras :)
Then the streets were empty again... It was a peaceful silence. In the back of this however the families were busy visiting each other, having the traditional Galungan meal. Listening to the sound of teh drums and the cymbals coming from a distance, I took a nap in my veranda, celebrating all this my way :)