Monday, April 19, 2010

Offerings To The Sea

At Seminyak, I quietly observed a Balinese family make their morning offerings to the sea. They were really close to where I was happily seated on my deck chair. Without knowing context, I surmise that it must have been an extra special sort of ritual because their eldest daughter seemed to be the focus of prayers, which is a little different from the usual.

Then the irony struck. Here we have the Balinese people going about their morning prayers in traditional garb. Then there are the tourists in their skimpy bikinis lounging around. Maybe the Balinese are used to it. But I'm not!!! I wasn't in a bikini. I was in a sports top and a bikini bottom. Still I felt damn self-conscious and kept the very decent ankle-length beach dress tightly on till the prayers were done and the people had left.

This entire island, is so touristy. My memories of Bali then and current impressions rather contrasting. I still like this island, but now that my head isn't stuck in the ground oohing and ahhing over resorts and fabulous service, I've come to be rather disappointed in the traditional Balinese food, culture and all. They've eroded, like the way their brilliant corals are fading. I had hoped for something more, but it is what it is- an artificially created economy based on tourism revenue through its sprawling resorts, architectural accolades and legendary service industry.

I was very interested in the odalans happening all over the island at any given time. We came across so many. Some lasted till the wee hours of the morning. What little traditional moments of the culture on this island I witness, I hold dear because this is the Bali I used to know.


tuti said...

price of tourism, and civilisation.

eve+line said...

I once saw a cremation at, of all places, Kuta beach! My guide didn't believe it at first because apparently cremations don't take place that often. When I described what I saw, his eyes became larger and larger and he finally said I was very fortunate to have caught the ceremony.

imp said...

tuti: indeed.

eveline: woah, what an eye-opener for you. and of all places, Kuta!

JoMel said...

tourism IS their livelihood..hence the island has to evolve and cater to them, to ensure that tourists keep coming (back). It's the "we got to do what we got to do" kind of scenario, you know. Also, the steady influx of migrants from Java, and other islands/ provinces has played a part in bringing about the change that you've experienced. Nothing is really that authentic anymore!

Having said that, I believe that their beliefs, their culture, their fundamental way of living - their deep reverence to Hinduism, e.g., everywhere you go, you can see cloths wrapped onto tree trunks - supposedly inhabited by spirits), and floral tray offerings placed in doorways, etc... These have not changed much, or at all. And in their homes, not so much outside - is probably where you will experience that Bali that you once knew. :)

imp said...

jomel: that's the love-hate relationship i suppose. everything revolves around tourism. i must try to understand more. haizzzz.