Friday

Bali : Art and Divinity (2)







I’ve been incredibly slack and not posted all details in one go. The fear that I maybe forgetting details, prompted me to get busy with this post.

Ubud is far removed from the drunk bikinis landscape in Kuta, is known as the designs and disciplines hub, dominated by music classes and exhibitions. The strong influence of Hinduism is evident in Bali's art, culture, everyday life and in the two dance performances we saw – a Kecak dance, which depicts a battle from Ramayana, where Vanara (monkey) helps Lord Ram fight the evil Ravan.  The dance is accompanied by an all-male chorus, with no musical instrumentation.  It was originally a religious trance-inducing ritual, but was transformed in the 1930s into a dramatic dance show intended for Western audiences.  It's an interesting example of how Hindu ritual in Bali has become "art."  At first, I was a bit cynical about watching a performance that wasn't "indigenous" and instead was designed merely to entertain foreign tourists.  But with persuasion gave in, indeed was entertaining. We also saw the Barong dance, which - like the Kecak dance - tells an ancient mythical tale of the battle between good and evil.  Among other fanciful and dramatic plot points, the dance involves a spell of dark magic that makes soldiers fighting for the good want to kill themselves by stabbing themselves, thankfully, the dance also involves a counter-spell that somehow makes the soldiers resistant to their self attack. Reminded me of the dance performances we saw in Kerala.

Couldnt help but sense, there's a good dose of theatre in everyday life.  Just walk down the street and you're likely to see a crowd of impeccably dressed people headed to a religious ceremony, or a colorful festival associated with a marriage, birth or death.  Indeed, whenever you drive (or in our case, were driven) anywhere in Bali, it's a good idea to take into account the congestion that is caused by the ritual processions scheduled for that day.  

We also visited a few jewelry shops, batik painters, wood artisans and a couplea exhibits of artists’ collective of gorgeous paintings of life in Bali–scenery of rice paddy landscapes, women working in the fields, beautiful portraits of local Balinese. Wonder why India doesn’t have such a town where arts and crafts are exhibited to full glory ( Pondicherry perhaps?)

Local Balinese tradition is incomplete without mentioning the temple visits – our 1st stop was at the sacred, famous sea god temple Tanah Lot. We were told by our hotel, that erosion had threatened this temple’s survival; and hence, a comprehensive restoration and stabilization program saw about a third of the ‘rock’ replaced with artificial rock and concrete – courtesy of the Japanese Government. Today, it’s a popular site for both tourists and pilgrims. Tourists are not allowed in. Only certain Balinese people about to perform the ritual prayer are allowed entry into the temple. What we did get to see was the wonderful Sun God setting by evening, eclectic fireworks in the sky. We also the coral life on the shores, hanging around these corals are black and white snakes which local folklore states to be protectors of the temple from all evil influences.

The 2nd temple we visited was Pura Ulun Danu, a Shivling  in a water temple located on the edge of Lake Bratan. Upon arriving here, we were given a sarong to wear inside (Hindu tradition) before making our way through the gates. The first thing we noticed is the lake inside the temple with another smaller temple sitting in the middle of. A little bridge spans the gap for people to walk over and the view of the surrounding area from here was quite something.

Another temple we went to was a masterpiece of stone carving standing over 100 feet high and wide. We climbed the stairs and took pictures from the bottom before proceeding into the temple itself. After dressing the part once again we ventured into the black rock temple filled with creature after creature carved into its walls. I felt if Lara Croft could have been there she would have been shimmying up those statues before you could whistle. And the main attraction in this place was a massive opening in the mountain wall where a huge cave opened its mouth to the outside world. As we approached we could hear the screeching sound of thousands of bats hanging from the ceiling. They all jostled for position and every now and again one would fly right by reminding you just how creepy they are. We asked our driver where the cave goes and he said (in his scary voice), "all the way inside the mountain where the snakes live". I asked if anybody had ever been inside all the way, to which he replied "would you want to go in there?" he's got a point I guess. We placed the customary frangipani flower behind the statues ear and left the place.

Yes in many ways because of its Hindu affiliation, Bali reminds one of India. The warmth, the hospitality, the willingness to explain their culture, makes Balinese people special.

Sub text: Will come back soon and close the Bali trilogy.

28 comments:

melinda said...

If I had t just look at the pictures it would have seemed like a post on India. Revelation for me that this nation harks back to Hindu rituals, culture.

ashish said...

Lovely post M! Looking fwd to the trilogy, there is much to absorb and learn from every country.

Vox Populi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vox Populi said...

This post makes one realise how important culture and monuments are. Balinese have saved their culture and has made it their strength not weakness.
This post matters a lot to Indians. We have been gifted by our ancestors by beautiful ancient monuments but very little is done by us to conserve them. Though we are far much bigger Nation than them but we just lack the zeal. Every Indian should read this post to know what we are loosing.
Full Marks M. Its truly an awesome post. Waiting for the 3rd one.
This one has done complete justice with the beauty that Bali holds...

RavneetSingh said...

Are their temples high traffic places? Begging? Poverty?

gita said...

Hey beautiful post> wish I had the wanderer in me too:P

sheila said...

Which country are you from?” was the most common question that we heard when we visited Bali. And When we replied “India”, we were amused at the reactions – dialogues from Hindi films to introductions to the local Shah Rukh Khans and Amitabh Bachchans. All in all, being an Indian is a good thing in Bali.

Shiana Agarwal said...

Amazing the visit was worth…
saadepunjab.com

Anon said...

Read both parts, nice, but more academic. Subdued on fun part. More on artistic side. Andaman were higher on fun and liberation. Bali was more on discovering the outer than the inner.
But great pics and description

Sagar

kerala flowerplaza said...

Brilliant stuff!
keralaflowerplaza.com

kerala flowerplaza said...

Simply superb………..marvelous….
keralaflowerplaza.com

hotels in Nainital said...

I was very encouraged to find this site. I wanted to thank you for this special read. I definitely savored every little bit of it and I have bookmarked you to check out new stuff you post.

Shanky Jindal said...

This is really interesting…
Gujaratonnet.com

Shanky Jindal said...

Interesting…
Gujaratonnet.com

roses said...

It is so amazing and good…lovely blog….
Rosesandgifts.com

Md.Glam Rabbani said...

Thanks to share such nice information.
You Can Visit My Site

Bank Jobs, NGO Jobs, Sales Jobs
IT Jobs, Supply Chain Jobs, Jobs info,
Govt. Jobs, Newspapers Jobs

Shruti said...

India is a land of diversities and every culture has its own uniqueness. It is rich and endowed with values and traditions. Your post is really nice and the pictures that you have added in your post has actually depicted the richness of Indian culture and heritage.

roses said...

Lovely…
Rosesandgifts.com

Web Designer In Jaipur said...

I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great. I do not know who you are but definitely you are going to a famous blogger if you are not already ;) Cheers!

iffatali said...

A novel is not, after all, a historical document, but a way to travel through the human heart.
Flights to Kathmandu
Cheap Flights to Kathmandu
Cheap Air Tickets to Kathmandu

jaket kulit said...

Thanks for showing up such fabulous information. I have bookmarked you and will remain in line with your new posts. I like this post, keep writing and give informative post...!
jaket kulit & jaket kulit garut

Ganesh Balimidi said...

I spent some 20 mins on this post and found amazing information. Thanks for this.. Hope to see more like this in future. I was searching some info on india management institute

Travel Agency in Lucknow said...

Registerd your Travel company with Dialusindia and get more business
Travel Agent In Lucknow

Devendiran Suresh said...

Very good website. I liked it very much.
http://www.picturebitecards.com
+91 9212198983

http://www.chennaiflowers.com said...

Flowers to Chennai delivery are free, safe and secured with www.chennaiflowers.com. We being Local Flower Shop are cheaper than other florists in Chennai. We deliver fresh Flowers, Cakes, Sweets and other gifts on door, you can order online to send flowers to Chennai .

Puneflowersdelivery said...

Send flowers to Pune, flowers to Pune delivery,flowers to Pune, Pune flowers delivery, flowers Pune, Online flowers to Pune.

chennaicakesdelivery said...

Send cakes to chennai, cakes to chennai, cakes to chennai delivery, cakes home delivery to chennai, buy, online, same day, cake delivery to chennai

Sudheer Yadav said...

Amazing temple my dream to go there but I think this time this is not possible so I did collection on http://guruofmovie.com