Yesterday was a special day in the village. The temple in Batur Sari, Bale Agung, was celebrating Ngusaba Nini. This colourful event takes place annually and if I’ve got my facts straight and nothing has got lost in translation between Wayan Wonder Woman and myself, it’s about celebrating the temple and warding off evil spirits. She mentioned monsters coming out at night but then sadly she didn’t have the necessary English, to elaborate further, or I the necessary Bahasa. Just the mere mention of monsters, got my imagination running into overdrive.
We gathered outside the temple yesterday afternoon and watched and waited for things to start happening. Irishman was kitted out in full Balinese dress, I on the other hand looked like I’d been dragged through a hedge backwards – even Wayan’s Mother made a point of commenting on this fact. I did wear a sarong and a sash, but I didn’t have a kebaya and I couldn’t borrow one of Wayan’s because my ample bosom wouldn’t allow it. Instead I looked a bit like a Goth, dressed from top to toe in black with just my Kenyan Kikoy to save the day.
Four different communties, or Banjar took part in the ceremony and it was a sight to behold. The highlight being the parade of around 500 women, all immaculately turned out (most of them having spent the morning in the beauty salons) looking stunning in their outfits and bearing towers of fruits upon their heads. The priests and gamelan musicians joined the procession. It was a very happy afternoon.
It’s impossible to really capture these special occasions on camera. You need to hear it, see it, and be a part of it, but I hope that in some small way that I have managed to convey something of what it is like to be at a large Balinese ceremony. Oh, and one last thing. The women’s Dulang (towering fruit and flower head gear) has to be the exact same size, in other words everyone has has to adhere to a uniform height, even down to how many bananas, flowers etc they have. No cat fights allowed!
This rule of thumb, doesn’t happen everywhere. In Wayan’s kampung for example, the richer women who can afford more fruit and flowers show off by having massive over the top creations on the top of their heads, whereas the poorer women have to make do with more modest head attire. I like it, that here in Batur Sari, Sanur no one has to feel left out, that it has a more egalitarian approach.
STOP PRESS! I can’t believe that I’ve done this – I’ve never had to add a photo after I’ve pressed the publish button but this is my favourite of all of them, the back of Wayan’s Mothers head ….phew, here it is! Better late than never.