Galungan – What a gorgeous time to be in Bali!
And what a great time to finally start writing again.
This is the 4th Galungan festival we have experienced here in Ubud, Bali, and I’ve gotta say that they get more special and more lovely each time. We’ve moved from standing on the side of the road watching in wonder, to wearing our very own traditional clothes and praying alongside our beloved Balinese families in their local village temple.
I’ve always loved the traditional Balinese dress, the men look handsome and proud, the women elegant and grand, and the children, who are dressed just the same as their elders are just adorable.
So this Gamelan we’re all feeling very lucky and grateful to be a part of what we have adored from afar.
Being the girls, Deni and I wrap a sarong around our waist like a skirt, it’s called a kamen and then a kebaya goes on the top half – which is a very fitted, long sleeve shirt. Us lucky ladies wear a corset under the kebaya, which is even more fitted than the kebaya! We then have a sabuk, which is a long sash that is tied around our waist. Our hair is always tied up, neat and tidy, although with our unruly curls we never quite look as neat and tidy as the beautifully elegant Balinese ladies.
Jed looks ever so handsome in his kamen, (sarong) a crispy white shirt and a white udeng, which is quite a clever display of white fabric wrapped around his head.
We all look gorgeous – albeit a little sweaty at times (especially under that corset!)
Our very first ceremony back in 2010. Aren’t they all so gorgeous!
Each ceremony that we have been involved in is more beautiful than the last. So many emotions wash over me – simply put – I’m so grateful to be right there and then, experiencing these deeply spiritual and heartfelt moments.
I look at my kids kneeling beside me, their little knees resting on their thongs, carefully copying the ritual that’s being performed all around them, hands in front of their hearts in the prayer pose, 3 splashes of water on their little heads, a flower behind each ear and on top of their heads, rice on their foreheads, and I think the love in my heart is almost about to explode right out of my chest.
Ohh, the joys of travelling with kids, bless their precious hearts!
One thing that makes the experience all the more sweeter is the unconditional acceptance of us in their precious temples, praying along side them and performing their rituals. Admittedly we must look a little odd – yep, a ‘whole lot odd!’ 3 little white skinned people, with unruly hair, and Jed with his big blue eyes. Me sweating under all those ‘tight’ layers of clothing while not a drip of perspiration is forming on any of my Balinese companions around me. Yes, we are a sight and they get much amusement out of seeing us in their place of worship, but once we enter into the temple, we are one. It’s a truly beautiful experience and one that I cherish.
I recall my first ever visit to the temple when I got separated from my family. I was a little lost, with absolutely no idea of what I was meant to be doing. Save disrespecting their culture, I figured if I just bowed my head I wouldn’t be offending anyone, and then, ever so gently, a hand appeared in my lap, gently pressing a flower into mine. The little old lady beside me guided me through the ritual, passing me all the little flowers, and incense, and rice that I needed to join her in prayer. We moved through the ritual in silence and when the ceremony was over and I looked up and I saw the sweetest smile I’ve ever seen. It was one of respect and acceptance. I wanted to say thank you, but I realized that in moments like these words are not needed.
Once again my heart was quite possibly about to burst with love.
It’s these experiences that make this journey so worthwhile. When I’m faced with smelly drains and uneven pavements I remember why we are here. It’s the Balinese way that drew us here, and keeps us here – for the moment anyway!