Thursday, 16 October 2014

A bit of Balinese Culture

On Wednesday 8th October, the day of the full moon, the locals celebrated Pagerwasi. This is the second biggest holiday for the Balinese Hindus. The day is devoted to Sang Hyang Pramesti Guru, the God of Teachers, Lord of the Universe.

The word Pagerwesi is derived from the words pager (fence) and wesi (iron). Wesi is a term used to describe a highly respected teacher. I have read that Pagerwesi can be interpreted to mean that one must control and protect the knowledge collected from teachers from being utilised to hurt others.

On this day they pray to all the manifestations of God, the Sang Hyang Pramesti, both at the temples and at the house temple. These ceremonies are a means of communication with God. 

We witnessed many couples on their way to a temple by motorbike. The man driving, whilst the lady was sat side-saddle on the back of the bike holding a rattan box which held the offerings. The men were dressed in white with a sarong and material belt and a material head band. The women wear the kebaya - a beautiful, figure-hugging heavily embroidered blouse worn with a batik sarong that is usually dyed with flower motifs and in bright colours. On these occasions, women often tied back their dark shiny hair into a bun, and decorate this with fresh flowers and flowers made of bamboo.

People put up "Penjor" which is a tall arched bamboo pole decorated with young coconut leaves. The Sri Jaya Kasunu manuscript states that the penjor symbolizes the mountain and the mountain itself is the symbol of the universe. Therefore, for the Balinese the penjor is synonymous with Mount Agung, the highest and holiest mountain in Bali.

The aim of erecting penjors at Galungan is to show devotion to God in His manifestation as Hyang Giri Pati (the God of the mountain). I believe the thinking is that mountains are a key part of the water cycle, which ultimately fulfils local needs for irrigation and drinking water.

The temples are an even greater focal point during Pagerwasi

Penjor line the streets, temples and outside every house

 Men and women head to the temples at first light and dusk with rattan baskets containing offerings for the gods

The celebrations carry on well into the night

The following day, Thursday 9th October, is Nyepi Laut, Quiet Seas, a day of silence, fasting and meditation for the Balinese. The entire marine activity in the region of Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan in Bali, is stopped for the day. Rituals not only apply for fishing activities only, but also happen to marine transportation activities to and from the area and all tourism activities including diving and snorkelling.

Nyepi Laut is a form of homage to the Dewa Baruna who is the ruler of the seas and oceans and is also a form of maintaining the relationship between humans and the natural surroundings.

A local boat man explained it as, every day of the year we use the seas, we cross it, enter it, wash in it and take food from it, so we give a day back to the seas to say thank you and to let it rest.

The strait between Bali and Lembongan is absent of boats at first light and remains so all day.  The mighty Runung Agung, "Bali's holiest and highest mountain, towers over the islands, divine and absolute".

A quiet end to a quiet day of the Quiet Seas

1 comment:

  1. Really you went to a full moon rave and had some magic mushrooms!!! (Aka the second temple!!) tee hee!!!�� Awesome guys!! Xxxxxx