To learn about the meanings behind these ceremonies: CLICK HERE.
This month I spent some time in Indonesia – and one of the best memories I have taken from it was attending Hindu ceremonies in a small village called Amed in northern Bali.
I’ll be posting about my entire trip to Indonesia probably within the next week, I just really wanted to post about the few days I experienced the ceremonies….
So, I was staying at a scuba dive center in Amed…..
I was laying in my bed and I heard a lot of music, chanting, people talking, and children laughing. I rushed to the front of the scuba dive center and saw a parade of local people dressed in traditional ceremony clothing. Baskets of fruit and offerings were being carried on the heads of some beautiful women, and children were clapping and skipping along to the music as they all headed towards the beach.
I immediately ran to my room and grabbed my camera and headed towards the beach on a motor scooter. When I arrived to the beach, there were groups of men playing instruments and everyone was taking seats in the rocks or the black sand.
As expected, I got a lot of stares. I mean….I look quite different from the other 500 people I was surrounded by.
Here are some photos from the beginning of the ceremony:
Before prayer, I was trying to play with the children. They were a bit confused by me. All of their eyes were on me, but they wouldn’t approach me. So I made eye contact with them, I got down on my knees on the black sand beach by myself and I started collecting small white rocks and shells. I brushed my hand over an area of the black sand, cleaning the area and creating a blank space. I began to make a sun with the white rocks on the black sand, beautiful contrast 😉 The children continued to watch me.
Suddenly, a brave little girl walked slowly to the front of the beach towards me. I later learned that her name was Ketut, she was the fourth born. We shared the same Balinese name. She got down and started to collect white rocks and she sat down next to me and started placing them on the black sand, helping me create a sun. We exchanged smiles. More children approached me, excitedly running around and finding white rocks, ready to help.
The kids then started touching my arms, and my face, and my hair. I played games with them, where they tried to slap my hands but I moved them away quickly before they could reach them. They thought this was the best game ever. We played in the water, splashing each other with the salty ocean water. I started to copy them as they moved their legs and arms, jumping, the faces they made…..then they did this to me in return. This was now the best game ever.
Every single one of them spoke zero English.
We didn’t communicate with each other verbally due to the extreme language barrier. All of them surrounded me, trying to speak and yell over one another in Indonesian, and I couldn’t tell them I didn’t understand them. So I put both hands on my chest and said “No Balinese. American.” and pointed at them and said “Balinese”, then back to myself, “No Balinese”. I then said “Hello, my name is Kim, and I am from America” – so they would understand we don’t speak the same language. They looked at me in awe….and then continued to play with me. I brought out my camera and we invented another new game. The one where I pretend I am about to take their picture and they r-a-n.
I ended up snagging some really beautiful photos, however….
I heard a bell ring, and it was time for prayer. I sat down in the middle of a bunch of beautiful Balinese people, sticking out like a sore thumb, but ready to learn and experience. The boys next to me gave me pieces of the flowers to use during prayer. I followed their direction and caught on immediately. I was smiling from ear-to-ear as I prayed, and then placed bits of flowers on top of my head and behind each of my ears.
Men came around with holy water, showering us each individually. We then cupped our hands as they poured. We drank from our hands three times, and the last times we used the holy water on our face and hair. Then, we were approached with a bowl of wet rice, where we placed rice grains on our forehead, our temples, and chest.
To see an example of this ritual: go here.
After this, the kids ran to me again, because the ten minutes away from each other was too long. One of the little boys ran up to me with a rose made out of a napkin, he laughed and pointed to the group of boys behind us and they waved at me and laughed too. They spoke broken English, but managed to ask me to take a photo of them:
I continued to walk around with my camera, and people continued to point at the camera and then to themselves. I shot photos and they rushed to see the back of my camera for the results. Giving me a thumbs up, a smile, and occasionally a “HEEEEYYYY!”
A few of the adults that spoke broken English came up to me, holding my hand and thanking me for coming, making the kids happy, and appreciating/respecting their culture and religion. I teared up numerous times.
Over the next few days, I got to go to the actual temple and experience the ceremonies there. I went each night. I didn’t capture as many photos like I did from the beach/nor were they the best quality…..but I will share them with you anyways.
This post doesn’t fully capture the beauty I endured these nights – nor will it ever amount up to the amount of love and pure, genuine happiness I held in my heart throughout my time there. I really hope you looked into the provided links to take a look into their culture/religion.
I will never be able to thank all of the beautiful souls I encountered in Amed for their open arms and amazing energy. I will always remember the little girl that first approached me and hung onto me throughout the entire evening.
Also: thank you to Nyam for taking me to the temples with you and your family and letting me experience all of this first hand. You are the greatest and I will see you in Amed again one day. This is another home for me.
Thank you for reading my blog post about my experiences with the magical Balinese Hindu Ceremonies in the village Amed. Hope you enjoyed.
As always, you may e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any comments or questions.
Find all of my travel photos on my instagram – @WADDUPKIM
Xoxoxo – Kim Charters • AS KIM TRAVELS •