Monday, March 30, 2015

To The Sea -- Water Purification for Balinese New Year

It's 5 a.m., still dark. We are all assembled at the village temple in Nyuh Kuning where I live. Hundreds of people in ceremonial clothes are busy loading trucks with sacred objects from the temple. The dark moon is a thin waning crescent, new moon approaching to mark the New Year. A gamelan orchestra plays music.

I heard about the New Year water ceremony performed by every Balinese village once a year; this is my first time. I could ride in a car, but instead climb up onto an empty open truck with many others and ride in open air.

We reach Purnama Beach-- Full Moon Beach. The shrines and offerings are unloaded and we join the parade to the sea.

Thousands of people from other villages are already here. The ceremony is spaced through the week, but this is the assigned time for many. The energy is electric, the colors are dazzling, the sacred objects are beautiful. 

An essential part of all Balinese ceremonies is waiting. We wait for priests to arrive, for their special mantras to be chanted, for our turn to accept the holy water and the blessings. While waiting, people do what they do . . .

Modern times in ancient ceremonies . . .

and things that never change . . .
After an hour or so, my village prays together, then marches to the sea where the priests gather water for blessings.

Everyone goes to the sea with offerings, shrines and protector figures.

At the sea edge . . .
Receiving the water blessings . . .

New year photo ops

We return -- a five hour journey all in all. I am honored to visit the sea for its blessing. This is what re-imagining water is all about for me, having a strong relationship with water, a deep connection. This is why I am here.

The next day is the parade of Ogoh-Ogoh from my last post. And the day after that is actually New Year's Day-- Nyepi  -- the day of silence and introspection. The entire island is silent, with all families at home. The rules: no electricity, no fires for cooking, no talking, fasting. The devout follow it precisely, the rest . . . Even the international airport is closed - no flights in or out of Bali this one day of the year. Amazing.

A friend snuck out to shoot the empty Ubud street. I will shoot another on a normal day and post it to show you the contrast!

Ubud street

1 comment:

  1. I am also very drawn to water. I am inspired to go to Bali again during the time of festivals. Thanks for the great photos and posts, Mara!


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