I long for warmer climes and sun, with the weather being unreliable and rainy in Kelowna this spring. This post will be about tropical heat and beautiful, lush growth, cooling off in the pool as the ocean water is too warm, and seeing many, many temples: house altars, family temples and the big Mount Agung temple where all Balinese families are expected to make a pilgrimage to, once a year on their Temple Day. I will start with some photos of the lush scenery and everyday life on Bali. In another post I will continue with the spiritual practices of everyday life, and lastly the temples of the Buddhist temple of Borobudur and the Hindu temple Prambanan on Java, another island in the Indonesian Archipelago. First photo: my tropical plants trying to survive in the rain on my deck.
A potted bougainvillea plant outside a temple; what a difference, even with little or no maintenance, just tropical rains at night.
The garden of our hotel maintained daily by gardening staff
Rice paddies maintained with centuries old agricultural practices. And the gods favour those who maintain their altars and honour their presence by small offerings, at least twice daily. The island Bali alone is full of vulcanos, some dormant, some alive; one is visible in the background. The villagers believe that the gods helps keep the giants asleep. The nation lies on the Pacific Ring of Fire on the fault of two tectonic plates and has many frequently erupting vulcanos within its territory, the worst Mount Merapi and Kelut on Java which in known history were responsible for thousands of deaths in the region. Since AD 1000, Kelut has erupted more than 30 times,] while Merapi has erupted more than 80 times, according to Wikipedia.
A mix of Hindu and Buddhist principles makes up the main religion on the island and has been for centuries, while the rest of Indonesia is predominantly Muslim; in fact Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world. A small minority of Christians also resides in Indonesia, but is not well regarded, and sometimes persecuted. On Bali peace reigns. It seems an isolated and special place with a population that is very focused on making the stream of foreigners and rich Indonesians comfortable, and before that, the colonial representatives that spent time on Bali. That’s why it was so traumatic that a tourist night club in the surf town of Kuta was bombed in 2003 by Al Quada terrorists, resulting in many deaths, predominantly Australian tourists. In 2004 I saw the billets with the faces of the terrorists, still at large, pinned on the main town building.
In rural areas, the family compound contains a temple that takes up about a fifth to a fourth of their family property.
A a A travel agent had arranged with villagers in the interior of the island for tourists to visit them in their house; the villagers receive a bit of a fee for showing their homes to tourists and had a chance to sell their sparse surplus weaving and carving products. Two children were told by their father to pose for me. I felt so sorry for the kids who were obviously very uncomfortable. I gave some some money and I always buy something if there is anything I like. Some tourists I saw trying to get the seller down to the bare minimum, or play games, but I would feel ashamed doing that; the population is already dirt poor and we who can travel already have so much wealth. Balinese seem to have a lot of endurance, tenacity and resilience. In effect, I am pretty sure that we as North Americans and Europeans might have a lot less in spiritual attributes and grace than the Balinese I met.
The rural villagers live on about an acre or so and maintain separate, roofed buildings, each with its own function, such as a sitting plateau, a sleep room, a kitchen, a wash and utilty building, an inner court yard, a temple, and a water source or stream and possibly a small garden. Agricultural fields are seldom inside the town and the community fields are located on the edge of town. There used to be a great danger for people to be snatched by a tiger from the fields, but not anymore on Bali, as tigers have disappeared. Most people would like to own a moped, or light motorbike, and they might take out a mortgage to pay it off. The whole family travels on that one bike. Many people are injured of killed in traffic, especially in the cities.
According to the Jakarta Post in 2008, the average income per capita rose to $1,946 in 2007 from less than $1,000 five years ago. This year (2008), the income per capita may rise to around $2,300 — $2,400. http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2008/09/16/economic-growth-the-rise-indonesian-middle-class.html
My trip was in 2004. Since then, the rising price of oil might have increased the GDP of the nation, but I doubt that the people living inland in agricultural areas benefit much from that fact. There are foreign charities for supporting social programs, but the benefits often only distributed to people with the right religion or political connections.
Every family has to have their rooster that is used for price fighting during religious celebrations. This fights can only take place under the mantel of religion and only at the temple. The family temple is for 3x daily prayers. The village temple is for taking the family food once a day and the family representative, often the man of the house, but more often the main female in the family offers a bit of it to the gods, then ask for blessing of the food, accepting the food and then will be saying grace for the gift of food. During special occasions, the whole extended family group goes to temple with extensively decorated food piles in low baskets that area beautiful, a gift to the eyes, and are carried on the head.
On the way to the temple for a special celebration.