Well Folks, I’m back. Back in writing action, and back in Bali. Of course! Looking forward to spending the next few months here, reading, researching, studying and writing. Thesis is simmering. Body is finally relaxing. Heart is shining. All is well in Cece-land.
I flew Korean air this time, and it was OK. Hardly comparable with Cathay Pacific, however. Don’t ask for vegetarian meals unless you really can’t eat an animal. I was peering jealously at my neighbour’s yummy-looking (I can’t remember what it was called but some famous korean food – no, not kim chi) rice mixture and carrot cake while I ate a very mediocre airplane dish of vegetables mixed with pasta and soggy-ish fruit. The service was great though, and despite the minor flaw of my luggage sitting in Korea while I arrived to Bali, (my sister commented that they probably needed a special cargo plane) all panned out well – with even a little compensation money and delivery to my home here a day later.
(Insert here a short clip of me running through the Korean airport, in good shape yet lungs suffering, trying to catch up with a fast young man running with my carry-on —surely a marathon runner as well as a sprinter— directing me as a full plane awaited my arrival ….. Now imagine another simultaneous clip of another man running with 110 lbs of luggage simultaneously, and guess who won the race. Alas, luggage was left in Korea).
The quick turnaround was lucky, however, considering I was going to a wedding a day later and needed my ceremonial clothing. I was also lucky that my sweetheart had gone shopping for some new material for me and arranged for a tailor to make a new shirt (kabaya) for this occasion. Amazingly I went to the tailor that day at noon to be measured and we picked it up – ready to go – later that evening. His family all wore the same colour so they could greet the guests and be recognized by all as “the family” of the groom. It was such a wonderful feeling to be included in this colour scheme and welcoming committee 🙂
It was also wonderful to finally experience what a Balinese wedding was like! I shall now describe to you the turn of events:
Generally, the lawar (do you remember this term? a ceremonial food comprised of sacrificed pigs, fresh pig’s blood, grated coconut, green beans, boiled jackfruit and many spices… ooouch!) is made the morning of the wedding. Everyone gets up before dawn to prepare. The men do the sacrificing, the preparation of the meat, and all the cooking. The women support by making coffee and serving snacks. They are also making the offerings (beautiful crafts created with palm leaves and other natural textiles to use for prayers to the Gods). Thanks, I’ll take that job any day over chopping up bones.
For this particular wedding, they decided to make the lawar the day before (which was eaten fresh that day, catering was done for the wedding day). I am always shy, entering into this family again. Having come from a VERY small family, being part of a family that looks like an entire village (50+ people) can be rather intimidating – especially when still new at the language and when I stick out like an eskimo floating in a chocolate bath. Even though they are so warm and welcoming with me, it takes a lot of rounding-up of my nerves to try and be part of the community because everything I do is being watched and smiled at (or laughed at 🙂 hahaha). But I mustered up the courage needed to help make coffee and learn how to make offerings and I even tried to carry a basket on my head (when no one was looking).
The next morning was the wedding, and we left a little later than intended (as usual) to arrive by about 10am. The ceremony actually starts at about 7am, when the couple prays together and only the family members are present. We could have gone for this but I guess I will have to wait for another occasion to see this part. For a local groom or bride, this is just a bunch of praying, because all their earlier ceremonies (such as hair cutting, teeth grinding etc.) have already been done throughout their life. The bride and groom are responsible for picture-taking and accepting congratulations. And prayer.
My account is somewhat general, I realize, but this is my understanding so far.
The ceremony always takes place at the groom’s parents house, and before the reception (around the time we arrived at 10am or so), they visit the bride’s house for prayer and a symbolic “goodbye” to her family temple as she becomes part of a new family… (of course, the next day, she’ll probably be back to her family temple for prayers). When people arrive, the groom’s family greets them, takes their gifts, and they are given (or take from a small station) some snacks and a drink. Then, everyone sits around, eats, talks, takes pictures, prays and watches other small ceremonies take place until late afternoon (4pm-ish).
After this took place, we went back to the house there in Nongan and talked some more, ate some more, relaxed some more. I laid down for a while because I was feeling pretty overwhelmed with everything. Time change, weather change, culture change, family change, life-style change. All good, but still tiring at first. Ketut’s Dad then brought out the rindik for me, and him, Ketut and I sat on the bale (bah-ley = balcony, patio raised open tile surface for sitting) and took turns playing.
Since then, I have mostly been relaxing. Went downtown Denpasar to buy a phone and walk around a big mall or three and eat two ice-cream cones in a row. Two days in a row. Did some visiting, sleeping, talking, catching-up, and a lot of smiling. Just got my motorbike today.
I’ll leave you with some pictures. Many of these were taken with the small camera. Bigger camera will pervade later. Better shots later. Have to get used to this again. Sorry about the lack of Bride and Groom shots! It took a while before I felt brave enough to go around and take pictures!!! Hope everyone is well. I’ll be back soon with more!