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Sunday, January 03, 2010

Shrine

The plump woman came sedately down the steep path of steps towards the small stone shrine. Clouds of sweet-smelling incense trailed behind her from a green woven tray of offerings she was bearing on her head. She descended past lichen-covered carved monkeys and the firmly packed stones of the 80 year old resort's retaining walls, past the swimming pool where we lazed in the sun or floated on life-saver rings in the shade. She paused at the steps to the shrine, then walked up slowly between its narrow gates and took the tray from her head to place it on one of the walls of the shrine. Several smaller trays of woven bamboo strip, each full of brightly colored flowers and strips of leaf were arranged on the larger tray. Calmly, she placed a foot on the base of the square central column of the shrine and pulled herself up with one hand to place one of the small flower trays near the top level. She stepped down again and moved back to her tray. She then took several of the incense sticks from the tray, pulled herself up again and wedged a smoking stick into a chink in the carved stone near the top where the flowers were, one here, two there. On a ledge below, at about the middle layer of the carvings, she placed a square of leaf that supported a portion of rice. Back at the tray, she untied the knot on a plastic bag and pulled the bag down so that the lid of a small jar was exposed. The jar contained a dark liquid. She poured some of the liquid into a Chinese tea-cup sized plastic bowl and placed the bowl of dark liquid on the other side of the middle ledge from the rice. From a pink plastic container shaped like a Maggi sauce bottle, she poured a clear liquid into larger, brass bowl. This must have been water. Holding this larger bowl in front of her, she faced the shrine, first at the front then at either side as she dipped her fingers into the bowl and with a pink flower petal held between her index and middle fingers, ceremoniously sprinkled water to the left and to the right of the shrine with upward flicks of her hand. After each sprinkle she made a slow wave of her hand, palm forward, fingers together, and with closed eyes made a silent supplication to the Balinese gods of the forest and the river. From just below us, the murmur of cascading water rose through the dense and precisely sculpted jungle.

We relaxed.

Nick, relaxing


Going down the pool?

E@L

6 comments:

Indiana said...

So finally you are having a good time?

expat@large said...

This place is awesome. Built on a cliff extending down to the river. Lots of steps though! & except there is no fridge in the room and it takes 30 mins to get ice sent up for our gins and tonic.

dh said...

Nice. Apart from the Freudian slip. Don't you mean 'bowl'?

scott said...

It seems that all things are not created equal. From your description of the thanks given at this shrine it seems a world away from the motivation to blow up no believers.

Although I have paid my own respects in a plethora of religious temples around the world and indeed in my own backyard, being an atheist is still the box I check. If their really is a god he/she has a wicked sense of something, to allow such division to fill the imaginations of humanity.

expat@large said...

Dick: Fredian slop connected. It was a brass bowel anyway, I saw next day.

Scott: the Balinese are not Musselmen, that's the fucking smugly smiling Javanese pricks who blow up good Australian tourists. A plethora of plagues upon their pork-abjuring arses...

Yes, and our one temple yesterday ticked THAT particular box. We did beer and spring rolls (and a BRILLIANT made-on-the-spot dipping sauce) over the rice terraces at sunset today. Tick.

scott said...

My comments were about religion in general, I thought you would have known I have not been to Bali on the end of season footy trip. So I did realise they are Hindu.

Trying my best not to be jealous of the beer, spring rolls, and that sauce...

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