In the past few days I had been in Ubud, I had been amazed by all the art and religion that permeate the daily lives of the Balinese. Amidst all that touristy stuff, the Balinese, just like their art, continue their graceful ways cognizant of the tourist industry that threatens to overwhelm their lives and ever mindful of the source of their being— their religion. Thus it is the dream of every traveler to get a glimpse of the authentic cultural ways of the people. No tourist program, no tout, no guide. Just the people and their culture. I got lucky. Twice lucky.
We were at the car heading on a day tour of some handicrafts village and Tengganan when we passed by a fairly large temple that was gaily decked in yellow banners and umbrellas. Assembled in front was a crowd of villagers dressed in their Balinese finery. The women were especially lovely and elegant in their straight-cut long skirts and sheer blouses.
I asked To Day to stop as I wanted to take a look. We watched a scattered procession of people heading to the temple on foot while a few others came by motorbike. Most of the women had the ubiquitous temple offerings on their heads. Before me was a tableau of the Bali we had all dreamed of.
By the entrance of the temple was a mat woven from dried palm leaves where the daily offerings were placed. As a non-Balinese, I couldn’t go inside so I simply contented myself peering in and hanging around the front. The villagers seemed to be used to it as nobody minded me.
There didn’t see to be much happening inside. No music and no voices to signal a ceremony was ongoing. Several minutes later, people trickled out of the temple. Perhaps whatever ceremony was going on inside was over.
A few days earlier on our way from the airport to Tanah Lot, we passed by a house with funerary ceremony going on. At a small platform by the road, musicians accompanied a male singer with the gamelan. The music was quick but had dark tones to it to match the deep voice of the singer’s chanting.
A small procession led by what seemed to be a “priest” dressed in a long white gown that reached to his feet came out of the house and headed to the rice fields across where they started burning something.
It was really interesting to see all those and I would have stayed to try to see some more if I was all alone and had the luxury of time. It was such a rare glimpse to chance on these.