Tonight, the last night before our guests arrive, Evelyn, my roommate and co-teacher, headed down the street to the town of Candidasa to look for a little gift for our students and because we heard there was a big religious festival tonight called Usabadamba.
The Balinese, who mostly practice Bali-Hinduism, welcome Westerners to attend their rituals and ceremonies, as long as you are dressed properly, which for women means wearing a sarong and a temple scarf. I carry these with me when I’m in Bali and Evelyn borrowed a set from the front desk of our hotel￼, and off we wandered out into the sticky night.
When we reached the temple, the street was filled with motorbikes and hundreds of local Balinese, dressed in their finest, queued up to enter. Women carried woven baskets on their heads, filled with their offerings to take to the temple. Lots of families were there. People were bringing their children to be blessed.
Throngs of people filled the inner courtyard. There was a gamelan orchestra and a series of Balinese dancers. Once I heard that metallic twang and saw those shifting eyes, I knew I was back in Bali!
Evelyn and I went up the stairs to the temple for women and children and families and watched people getting blessed with holy water and rice. A young man with a beautiful baby, sitting in front of us, handed us a stick of incense and told us what to do if we wanted blessings. So we did, and we received the holy water for ourselves and for our group arriving tomorrow.
There was gambling….a big crowd here…
Even a children’s version. This was after all a festival to bless families and children!