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Okay, Now Where Was I?

February 5, 2019

Back to Bali…

One of the fascinating things to observe in Bali is the spirituality of the people, 85% of whom are Hindu. Every morning at our hotel, one particular lady fashioned offerings that were distributed around the property: on verandahs, atop little shrines and on the tables in the dining area. One day she was making small baskets of coconut palm leaves to hold the flowers, leaves, pieces of palm and other greenery that comprised each offering. Daily Offering

Single Offering

At different times during the day, staff members would approach the largest shrine, just off the dining area, quietly say their prayers and then return to work.

Altar

During our first week, it was this shrine above that a large monkey visited each morning, picking through the offering, which I guess he assumed was there for him. We all missed getting a good shot of the day he began pawing through the elements like a kid tearing through his toy box, tossing everything over his shoulder as he frantically searched for…what?

Offering baskets like these appeared everywhere we went each day. The lady at the bank with whom I did my frequent transactions had one on her desk; we’d find them on the sidewalk in front of businesses; at the water temple we visited they were arranged above the spouts. Sometimes it would be just the basket of offering, but most times there was also a stick of incense burning, adding a pleasing aroma. The ritual of assembling the offerings every single day is in itself a form of worship.Offerings with Incense

The arrangement of the offering elements is not random, but is organized in a particular design so that each component occupies a specific space on the tray (north, south, east, west) associated with a Hindu god. This daily offering is given as thanks for peace in the world, and the prayers reflect that gratitude. I was moved by the simple devotion of these people, who constantly remind themselves to be thankful. While they worship one God, they also recognize the three major Indian Hindu gods (Brahma, Vishnu and Siva), along with a variety of specialized gods I will never understand unless I study the religion in great depth.

It must be this strong faith that accounts for the serenity of the Balinese people. They are warm, kind, calm, welcoming and accommodating in every way imaginable. Off the resort, in the sheer chaos that is Ubud traffic, this spirit prevails. Despite there being virtually no traffic lights or pedestrian crossings (in fact car and scooter drivers don’t yield to pedestrians trying to cross the street), scooters squeezing between cars left and right and parking on sidewalks, and the general gridlock that prevails at almost any hour of the day or night, there is no road rage. A driver gently honks his horn to alert another that he can cut into traffic or that he is passing (no such thing as no passing zones); no driver gives another the finger or shouts obscenities; and everyone just seems to take in stride what we would consider an intolerably frustrating situation. It is typically tourists blithely renting scooters who end up getting in (or causing) accidents, not the locals!

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