Tranquility. Peace. Healing.
Monday’s ceremony and visiting the temples was a very interesting experience that I will not soon forget.
For the morning purification ceremony and celebration of the two 7-month pregnancies, I had no idea what to expect. We got dressed in a toga-like pure-white outfit, which made me feel clean at first, but then after sitting a while it got pretty hot in the sun. I am still very unaccustomed to Bali time, which is very loose. We were sitting for over an hour and we just watched everyone set up the things they needed for the ceremony. That part was different than a typical American ceremony of any kind where you show up and everything is already set up and done. However, I liked being able to see what they were doing, even if I didn’t know why. When the priest showed up I was surprised how normal he looked and acted until he climbed up onto the small ‘stage’ for lack of a better term, and he seemed to be transformed with all of the blessings and rituals he did by himself. He appeared to not be affected by all of us staring at him, or by the other people talking and setting things up around him. I wish we could have been told by someone during it was he was doing. After another hour I was getting quite thirsty and restless. I was glad when they started interacting with us and performing the rituals. It was interesting that water was used a ton for purification. I think immersion in water or washing with water in general is used across many different cultures and religions, and that was neat to think about. Three years ago I was baptized into the faith of following Jesus, although now I am more of a pluralist than exclusive ‘Christian’. That was a full immersion into a body of water, and it is just symbolic of being reborn and starting a new life. This was a similar experience, although the water smelled like flowers here!
Throughout the day, there were a lot of repetitions with the procedures of the purification we went through. We seemed to get “purified” so many times because of the amount of times I sipped the water, got water poured on me, rice put everywhere, flowers I had on me and prayed with, and more. Apparently it takes many times for us to be healed. I wonder where the art of this type of healing came from and why it takes the amount of times that it does, and how that can be fitting for every single person.
I loved how the sun came out during the first ceremony right after we were all purified. It was kind of magical feeling. During the last healing ceremony it had been raining and then the sun came out as it was setting. That felt like pure hope, streaming in through the trees and laying a blanket on us all.
I also liked how light natured that first ceremony was. People occasionally messed up a little and everyone laughed, and it was all okay.
At the monkey temple, I was honestly pretty distracted by the monkeys. A similar experience happened at the business temple, but with the cats and the thunder. The healing temple was my favorite, although it took the longest. The part I liked most about it was how secluded it was. I absolutely love forests and finding a place that is quiet and away from everything. I could imagine coming there by myself and being able to completely relax and focus. I started to get tired when it took so long to get started (like in the morning ceremony) but I’m sure that was part of it. As mentioned earlier, I’m still struggling with accepting that time is not something that the Balinese worry about.
Another thing that bothered me was the waste of beautiful things. In the morning ceremony, pots for every person were completely smashed. Throughout each thing we participated in we each had beautifully made reed and flower offerings that we threw away each time. There were many things that were naturally made and would not last for more than a couple days. Those things would have taken so many man hours to create, and I hated that it was just thrown away. I did ask Evert about the pots being smashed and he said that it’s symbolic of breaking away the hard barrier of your heart, so it symbolizes opening your heart. I thought that was pretty cool.
On the way back from the last temple, I reflected on what I was feeling. Mostly, I was tired and hungry. But I definitely felt more at peace. I felt similarly to when I have a good session of deep conversation with a friend or am feeling close spiritually. I’m not really sure how that can coincide with my current beliefs. I think that might take some more time to think through and see what I think after some more time here in Bali. I can honestly say, though, that I felt different at the end than in the beginning.