Exactly after 9 months I’m back to Jakarta attending the closing ceremony of the program I studied in Indonesia. Time flies so fast, but there’s no space for gloom. This unique opportunity has brought intensive and unforgettable experiences, adventures, awkward/funny moments and most of all, amazing and inspirational people with whom I shared this time.
Some time ago, I wrote an article about the first semester, which was more about getting familiar with Indonesian language and the environment. With the more advanced level of language, it was way easier to create a stronger connection with local people and get to know Balinese astonishing culture and traditions closer.
This is a summary of the exciting moments I’ve been going through during past months, when sarong and kebaya (traditional clothes) became my uniform.
Traditional coffee production in the village of Pupuan, Tabanan regency
Nestled in the beautiful surroundings of rice fields, Pupuan is a small village where we visited a farm and saw the traditional process of coffee production. From harvesting until blending, the owner explained us the entire magic behind every cup of “Bali kopi”.
Taking advantage of being nearby, we visited a temple to worship Lord Shiva. In Hindu religion, Shiva is considered as the most divine, pure in the heart and easy to please. Even if you have some weaknesses, Shiva will give you his love and mercy.
In Pupuan is located also Vihara Dharma Giri – a statue of sleeping Budha. Unfortunately, the rain foiled our plans to stay longer, but the landscape of green rice field with the mountains in the back seemed to be adequate compensation.
Galungan and Kuningan Festival
Galungan symbolizes the victory of good (Dharma) over evil (Adharma) and during this period Balinese show their gratitude to the creator and ancestors. Galungan is one of the major festival periods and lasts for 10 days. The last day of the festival period is called Kuningan – it’s 10th day after celebrating Galungan. On this day, the spirits ascend back to heaven. Preparations are ongoing already few days in advance. Houses and village are decorated by penjor – hanging offerings.
Ogoh-ogoh Parade and Nyepi (a Day of Silence)
Huge statues called Ogoh-Ogoh mostly symbolize demons. The parade is held 1 day before Neypi day (Balinese New Year and Day of Silence) and the main aim is purification the environment polluted by wicked spirits. In Tabanan, we have seen 24 Ogoh-Ogoh and each of them was truly a piece of art.
On Nyepi day is forbidden to go out, use the light or fire and people should devote this day to self-reflection. Bali was magical, the island literally turned off for a day – empty streets, lights shut down and priceless night sky observation.
How to Make an Offering Canang Sari
You can see them everywhere – Canang Sari is the most common daily offering to thank the Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa in prayer for the peace. Also, it is believed that if demons would pass by the house, the offering will tranquilize them and they won’t enter. Each offering consists of red, purple, blue and orange flowers, canang and small money (usually 2.000 Rp), all put into a basket made of coconut leaves.
The Gamelan Class and Balinese Dance
The Gamelan ensemble is an essential part of Balinese culture. It consists of different instruments (metallophones) and it is played in many ceremonies. I played 2 gongs and I must confess even though it might seem easy, the gongs were super tricky – my sore arms for the next 2 days could talk about it 🙂
Balinese dance is also an integral part of the culture. Dancers dynamically express the stories by using fingers, hand, head, facial and eye expressions. There are several categories performed on special occasions, festivals or in the temples.
The Cooking Class
Undoubtedly, Indonesian cuisine is so delicious. One of the most traditional meals in Bali is Gado-Gado – steamed vegetables, tofu and tempeh, all served with peanut sauce. Once you’re in Bali this is a must-try. Another meal we cooked is called Lumpia – a spring roll filled with steamed vegetables wrapped and fried. The ultimate Balinese version of Master Chef was followed by the lunch we prepared altogether.
The Finals & Hate to Say Goodbye
All of us successfully passed the final exams, so as “advanced” Indonesian speakers we had a session in the Language lab. Even though the study is over, but memories, funny moments and relations we built will last.
The words can’t describe how happy I am for a chance to share this period of my life with such a lovely people. IKIP Saraswati Tabanan was a terrific choice, Ibu Putu Wulantari made it even more intense and showed us the real Bali, you won’t find in travel guides.
Indonesia offers unlimited inspiration and I will try to take advantage of it for the next chapter in my life, let’s see where in the world 🙂