About Me

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Taman, Bali, Indonesia
I am just a 38 years old fellow from a small village named Taman, on the island of Bali. There is nothing that is too special about me. I am not a person with degree but I always love to have opportunity to learn new things in my life. I am working just as a driver and tour guide for Bali and I have been happy doing it for more than 16 years now and it might be the only things that I can do for the rest of my life.

Friday, September 09, 2005

When The God Descend at The Mountain.

Our ancestors told us to spend our holiday with contemplation not vacation like in the west. After being so busy doing all the work on the rice field, during the season of Kadasa they are entrusting themselves, pampering their soul and honoring the almighty spirits.

Full moon in the sky, without any clouds hanging around, rain is falling less and change to dry, and Fresh air. Up in the mountain area is still a little bit colder. The wind is still strongly blowing from southeast, falling off all the bloomy. Birds are busy making up their nest and mating. The cows and buffalos are starting to be getting their pregnancy, little birds are having whims on the vast golden rice paddies, and rivers with its clearly water. Entering the season of Kadasa, the tenth month around March 25th through April 21st, Bali is really entering a clean realm of nature. Our ancestors had given a name of Kadasa means clean.

From the 12 seasons that we have in Bali, Kadasa is the freshest and the coolest season. The sun is not too burning and the air is very fresh. The local farmers who are very sensitive with the sign from the sky, tricking this season as the right time to plant corn, peanuts, sweet potatoes and vine plantations such as beans, cucumber, pumpkins, etc. it is also a great time to plant flowers and articulated plants such as bamboos and sugarcane. During this season the plantations are rarely got the oily dew. The people who love to produce honey, it’s also the right time to hang the beehive where the honeybee would be easily come and stay in it. Shortly it is a happy season for the farmers in Bali.

During the season of Kadasa is believed that the gods are descending up in the mountains enjoying the beauty of the nature. It is the season that mostly blessed by the gods, and it is considered that the earth is the closest to the planet of the gods, moreover when it is full moon in the sky.

These beliefs, which make the Balinese people, are making religious devotion to the gods during the season. It is the time when the farmers are having their holiday as they have just done with the rice harvest, they have no work except cutting the grass for their cows, and then they will be deep in their religious activities. It is a long holiday for the Balinese, which means having worship and pampering the souls after working hard for 12 seasons.

It is not strange during this season, Bali is deep into serenity of their ritual ceremonies with waving of religious chanting, and jingling of the priest’s bells conducting the ceremony is slitting the silence of the villages, gently sounds of Gamelan are like inviting the gods to descend from the heaven. In some villages, the people are conducting a specific ceremony to honor the goddess of the fertility. Bali is becoming a real theater of the great heaven.

On this season, at the mother temple of Besakih/on the feet of Mount Agung, we have a great ceremony to worship the god and goddess that’s descending on the mountains from the heaven, and the feet of this mountain is becoming the main destination for the Balinese to pay their homage to the almighty gods. It is becoming the orientation of the free time, and as a place to pray to the mountain gods as the goddess of the fertility.

In some of Bali’s spiritual literatures, mountain is becoming the source of the prosperity. Mountains are the center and the main source of all the fertility and prosperity that flows down through the rich farms of the villages. If the mountains are bold, water stops running, rivers would be dried up, rice paddies would be gone and at the end starving will attack the people, civilization would be dissolved.

We are all on the entire world have the same duty to preserve our environment, mountains and forest as the source of the life. Let’s stick together to create this world as the most beautiful, peaceful and harmonious place in the entire universe. I am sending you my warmest greeting from the island of gods “ BALI”.

Balinese Subak

Subak is a traditional rice farmer association in Bali. It is very well known and well astonished around the world, and now it is getting pushed aside among the mega development on the island. Productive rice field is getting less because it has been taken over for houses, hotel development, golf courses, etc. we can imagine what Bali is going to be without its spectacular rice terrace view. Our next generation will only see the beauty of Bali’s famous rice terrace view from all the postcards and documentary photograph that have been taken by the tourists who by chance have visited this island of thousand temples. There will be no more stories about Bali’s famous irrigation system, scarecrows for keeping the birds away, duck shepherd who always come and feeding their ducks with the left over rice from the harvesting, and the whims of the local people during the harvesting time. Well, let’s take a look at a light story below.

Once long time ago, there was an old rice farmer who lives in a small village on the island of Bali. He was died at the age of 96 years old. He was spending his entire life working on the rice field to do rice farming. Even when he was born, it was in a little hut in the middle of the rice field amongst the sniffing of the cows and the chicken’s crowing. His childhood, teenager, adult, after married, having children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren he was spending by being a rice farmer. He was really devoting his entire life of being a rice farmer. He is almost being on the field the whole day or even till late at night to look after his irrigation system to make sure that everything is going right. He was still picking up tomatoes from his garden five hours before he was leaving this world forever.
Of course there was nothing really special about this old rice farmer died. After the Kulkul(the wooden bell) in the village was beaten, it’s forwarding the news to the entire villagers that an old guy has finished his duty in this real world and now is heading to the next world. The whole villagers were coming to his home to prepare the entire thing for his cremation ceremony, and then his body was cremated in a very simple cremation ceremony.

But the death of that old poor rice farmer was becoming unusual when his soul went to get an eternal union with the almighty god. On the front of the heaven’s door, all the heavenly angles and the brave handsome heaven’s soldiers welcomed him. They were welcoming this old rice farmer’s soul with a great happiness and praiseworthy songs. Surely it made this poor guy being so astonished by the great welcoming ceremony as during his life he had never treated that way. And behind himself, there was a soul of the high priest was on his turn to enter the heaven, but the heaven’s soldiers got on his way and said,” you have to go through the interrogation room".

That priest was having his protest to the soldiers as he had devoted almost a half of his life for the sake of the spiritual glory of the human being in the real world. If we try to compare the poor rice farmer, of course that priest that should go to heaven without any interrogation or inspection. The soldiers told him that the poor rice farmer was an honest, innocent, simple and never complaining even protesting. His entire life’s energy and work he had devoted for the sake of the human being. But the priest himself, before he was becoming a priest, he was a common human being who had ever cheated his friends, cheating his business partner and it was enough making other people annoyed. He was not paying off his debt to the others, so that he has to be interrogated before entering the heaven. He has to responsible to his behavior during his life. That was the excuses of the soldiers.

The old rice farmer was being confused, so the main reason of a good deed and glory in the heaven and the real world was not really the same. He was the one that working hard on the filed to provide food for the sake of the prosperity of the human being then the reward of his hard work he’s now enjoying it in the heaven. What a long journey and time that he had to go through in receiving all the reward of his good karma for almost a hundred years of living on earth.

The above story is surely not trying to convince people that the only way to go to the heaven is being a rice farmer. It’s also without any intention of overrating the task and function of the farmers. But among the Balinese community, farmers are the poor people where lack and hardship, subordination, honest, and strenuous are always filling their lives. They are the people who always consider life as a work. Selling their crops besides what they need in providing food for their family, they never have an intention to get multiple profits.

Anyhow, aren’t there many rich farmers? Instantly those Clove, coffee and vanilla farmers. Honestly, they are not a genuine farmer anymore, but they have been acting more like a merchant that always emphasize a multiple profits. If we hold up to the above story, the deities of god who are judging the souls in the heaven, they are surely having a curtain rule and definition for this group of people.

However for the Balinese people, a strong friendship among the farmers, individually and as group are very strong. Every rice farmer is a member of the Subak, a group of very religious social-economy that’s traditional farmers. Anywhere around the world, there must be a group of farmers but the Balinese Subak is known to be very unique with its religious principle. Subak is also being admired for its comparative.

There were thousands of scientist have come to Bali to examine the Subak system. There are so many theses and dissertations were made from the examination. The Subak’s doctrine and theory have become a form and model for the group of rice farmers in South East Asian countries and Africa, and Subak has been praised by the people round the world. But why is the famous Subak association couldn’t prosper the rice farmers? Why are there still many rice farmers who are living very poor even they have been becoming a rice farmer for many years? It’s probably because of being so honest and moderate that is making them still becoming flabby low class community. Subak is very well known for its perfect water irrigation system but surely they are not great in marketing and wouldn’t survive in competition. They are no more being a model and example. Even there were so many worlds’ group of rice farmers and scientist from round the world that examined about Subak but it’s limited only because of its strong friendship and religiosity. Apparently, Subak is very weak in the position of bargaining.

Galungan & Kuningan Festival on Bali island!

Mythological background

Once, in around 6th century there was a battle between The God Indra and the evil king of Mayadenawa who said to have ruled over Bali prohibited the worship of the gods, destroyed shrines and tried to wipe out all religion and as the result Bali fell upon evil days. All the gods were very angry and told Indra to eliminate the evil king. After a series of battles, Indra finally killed Mayadenawa and the victory over Mayadenawa is the source for the important Galungan celebration.

Among the many holidays in the Balinese Hindu, the most prominent are undoubtedly those of Galungan and Kuningan. It takes place every 210 days according to the Balinese calendar, Galungan falls every Wednesday and Kuningan falls every Saturday, 10 days after Galungan. Colorful offerings are made for the festival, temple are well dressed up with batik, white and yellow cloth, Penjors are made and place on the front of the house gates and temples which are arching the villages roads.

Penyekeban Galungan

Is on Sunday before Galungan, the green bananas are sealed in a huge clay pots and on tops the rice husk fire burns. The heat treatments ripen them quickly. We do this only when we do not have enough bananas ripe for the festival, as we need lots of bananas for the Galungan offerings.

Penyajaan Galungan

It comes from a word “Jaja” means cake. It is on Monday before Galungan, where the women are busy in making the colorful rice cakes for the offerings. They are then being placed on the woven young coconut leaf and decorated with various fresh flowers. All the different offerings are being sorted and gathered for each of the shrines in our family temple and the local village temples. They are all well prepared for Wednesday’s festival.

View more photos of Penyajaan

In the afternoon, the men are busy to prepare the pig that they are going to slaughter the next morning on Penampahan day. A few days before, people have gathered themselves into a small group to share the pork of a pig that might be 100 kilogram of weight. The group normally contains of at least 10 people. They surely have been looking around for the pig in the village that they are going to buy and shared for the festival. When all being set-up, the group catch the pig in the afternoon around 5 PM for the early morning butchering. A couple of them getting into the pigsty tie the pig while the others are circling around to give hand. They tie up the mouth, the front and back legs with a rope that is made of a thin split young bamboo for the scaling. The owner then gives the pig a small blessing ceremony before the scaling. Basically, it is a way for the owner to ask for a good weight of their pig so they can get better money. After scaling the pig, it is then being tied up strongly by a tree, so that it will not run away at night as they are going to be butchered the next early morning. The nighttime is a bit different now as you are hearing lots of noise from the many pig around your village and your neighboring villages. I can imagine that all those pigs are having such a nightmare for the night. They all said,”I wish that I wasn’t born as a pig”. They are slandering the whole night and it makes us hardly get some sleep the entire night. I am sure that it is also happening to those Bali bombers who have been punished to death by the judges for what they have done to our island. They must be slandering us overnight of their nightmares before the execution day that will come to their boring life. What can they do? All have been judged. A judgment day!

Penampahan Galungan

Is on Tuesday before Galungan. It comes from word “Tampah”means slaughtering animal. For the Galungan festival it is mostly pig. Starting from around 3 AM, villages are breaking out into scream of pigs are being slaughtered for the festival. They are screaming and screaming but nobody care, sharp knives are cutting their throat with a few words from the butcherer, “I wish that you will be reborn as a better god’s creature in your next reincarnation”. It is the last words that they hear before the blood pouring out into big bucket, they fall down helplessly. After they sure that the pig is dead, they burn dried coconut leaf for burning the fur of the pig, cleaning them up and chopping them into pieces for everyone in the group.

View more photos for Penampahan Day

They bring home their share and cooking them for the morning feasts and offerings. They make lawar, a spicy hash made of finely ground pork, young long bean, young JackFruit or papaya and dozens of spices. Sticks satay are made for the offering and grilled on the fire that is built from coconut shell. We also make sausages from our pork, soup, and pepesan chopped meat with different spices that are wrapped in the green banana leaf and steamed. Our morning are busy cooking all the above for the Galungan offerings. Around 1 PM or 2 PM, we are very much done with our work.

After having our lunch from what we have cooked in the morning, men are cutting the bamboo for our Penjor, climbing up the palm tree to get the young leaf for the penjor’s decoration. It is a hard job to do especially after your stomach full of good food but we have to do it. The whole afternoon we spent for making up our penjor, make it as nice as possible, hoping that we are not having the worst one in the village. After the penjor is done, we hang whatever we grow in our garden like banana, sweet potato, corn, rice, coconut and rice cakes to thank to the god for what he has blessed in your life, in term of food stock. It is symbolizing the prosperity. A small shrine of a woven bamboo is placed on the Penjor about our height to make us easy to put the offerings. We then place the penjor on the front of our house gate. Our village roads are arched by the colorful penjor from every house, a wonderful view of very festive days.
We cut the grass around our house, burn the trash and make our area clean for the festival.

We dress up our family temple with beautiful clothes, putting up the temple umbrellas, banners and hang the Cili, a woven young coconut leaf that is made like goddesses symbol of fertility and prosperity. All are well prepared for the upcoming visit of the ancestral spirits.

Galungan Day

Wednesday, it is the highlight of the festival where it is the time for prayer, family gathering, and offerings, all temples ring with merriment. Early morning, we are busy to place all the offerings on every shrine of our family temple, main family temple, clan temple, and the village temples. The roads are busy with people carrying offerings on their head for the temples. Everyone, including kids are well dressed up with their traditional outfits for the prayer. Prayers are made in every temple, continued by holy water blessing. Our holy ancestors descend from the heaven, receiving our devotion and blessing all of us with prosperity, peace and harmony.

View more photos of Galungan Day

Manis Galungan

On this day, we are a bit relaxed after going through all the ceremony’s preparations and prayers. It is a time to visit friends, relatives or just hanging around and making the roads jammed with cars and motorbikes. It is show time, time to show your look and looking at people look along the roads. Tourist’s sites are flooded with families, youngsters, and another day of spending and spending your budget especially if you have kids. People are selling toys everywhere that make your kids crying out.

Kuningan Day

It takes place 10 days after Galungan and marks the end of the festival. We still make more offerings, as the ancestors return to heaven.