A decade ago I was privileged to come across a village on the coast of eastern Bali that was preparing to enter into a period of ceremony and celebration. I decided to stay. What unfolded was a ceremony, attended overwhelmingly by locals, that would stick with me forever. The images of those days I can recall with clarity and remain vivid in my mind.
This was not a ceremony dictated by the whim of tourists but rather by the lunar calendar to which many Balinese ceremonies and festivals adhere. The fight scenes depicted in the dances of good and evil were tense and produced blood. All the local women removed themselves from the final scenes so as to prevent any adverse affects by the upcoming release of evil. Men became consumed by trance while others forced them to the ground. Ceremonial chickens were slaughtered and holy water was used to douse the bad energy. The ceremony was interesting, unique, and shocking.
I have never seen another one quite as intense.
As the evening a decade ago, began, I was still unaware of the events about to unfold. Usually this sleepy village has little to no activity in the evening bar the occasional cluster of children taking advantage of the sea’s cooling waters at the village doorstep.
Tonight was different.
All around locals were dressed in their finest batik sarongs, cotton kebaya’s or shirts, and matching headdress. There was an excitement in the air. Continue reading Privileged Witness of Balinese Trance