Monday, October 6, 2008

A welcoming party

I realized last night after I posted my entry about my second week in Bali that I completely forgot the most authentically Balinese activity that I did the entire trip! I participated in a house-warming party, Balinese style.

I suppose that I need to back up and mention that when Anne offered to let me stay in her house my second week in Bali, she wasn't planning on being there. Unfortunately (but also fortunately, since I got to know her well), she had an accident involving stitches in her scalp and was "forced" to spend another week past her holiday with me in Bali before travelling back to Korea where she is a permanent substitute teacher at an international school.

I suspect that as a result of her accident, all of her Balinese friends/employees were a bit worried that there were bad spirits stirring up a ruckus in her newish home. So they all decided to have another house-warming ceremony in order to make sure that all of the gods and spirits were in agreement that this house should no longer contain quite so much mischief.

After an afternoon of helping Anne shop at the friendly neighborhood Balinese Costco, we rushed home to make it back to the house before the priests arrived, which we did, luckily, as it turned out that we had to be dressed for the occasion.
When Anne and I arrived, Ketut (essentially the overall manager of the property and groundskeeper and general coordinator of all of the other workers) had already changed into a sarong and matching sash and was opening up the house to get it ready. A few other people rushed home on their motorbikes to find sarongs and sashes for Anne and I so that we would be properly attired.

The priest arrrived and everyone got everything set up, which, in Bali, means a huge spread of rice, beautiful fresh flowers, a baby chick and hundreds of other things designed to make the gods and spirits happy with you. The priest did a three-part chant, first asking the gods permission to pray, then the actual praying, before a long closing chant to thank them.

It was a beautiful, fairly surreal experience, and I felt so honored to be invited to participate. I mean, I drank flower-flavored water, put flowers in my hair, even had a string tied to my wrist, which all signified...well, I have no idea, actually, but I think they were all good things. Plus, I now feel a responsibility to the house and its well-being, so it's only natural that I should go back to check on it sometime in the near future. Right, Anne?

1 comment:

JB said...

I wish I could be with you instead of studying biochemistry!