On Bali, the rhythm of religion is the ever-present pulse that drives daily life. Miniature baskets of flowers, palm leaves and incense are ubiquitous, fragrant offerings put together with deliberate care but often swept away with the rhythms of daily life. Such is the ephemeral nature of all things, I suppose.
Deference to a higher power informs the construction of homes, the way people walk, the way they sit, and nearly every aspect of life here. According to Wikipedia:
It's considered rude to point one's feet at another person, to touch another person's head (the most sacred part of their body), or walk with one's head above the level of a priest or elder (not easy for someone who's 6'5"). As is often the case when traveling, there are a raft of rules that could potentially trip up the uninitiated.
Today the Çudamani partipants were welcomed in grand fashion with a Hindu Ngawit ceremony, as one of the elder priests in the area blessed the instruments, the teachers, and the fellow artists studying in Bali. Petals of flowers were passed through incense smoke and tucked behind our ears, paying homage to various gods of life and the arts.
The priest sprinkled blessed water over our heads and into our hands to drink, a spiritual cleansing most welcome after a 36-hour journey from Chicago.
Set against the background of the gender (gen-dehr), the priest's bell-ringing, a chorus of insects, and chanting by the participants made the ceremony an aural feast.