The Story Behind The Photo
While living in Bali for a month, I was exploring some of the nearby area one night and came upon some sort of ceremony at one of the nearby temples. Curious to see what was going on, but not wanting to intrude or offend, I hung around near the entrance for a bit and listened and watched as the ceremony progressed. I exchanged smiles with the people going in and out and even tried to ask a few of them what was going on, but most spoke very little English, so I just enjoyed the atmosphere and continued to observe.
Not much time had passed when a very friendly man came and spoke good English and invited me to come in and watch. Up until this point there had been a lot of praying and ceremonious worship going on, so I was a little hesitant and offered that I was not Hindu, but he said that the prayer part was ending and now it was time for a show of some sort, the name of which I cannot remember. He welcomed me into the temple area and introduced me to some of the people there. As it turned out, everyone there was related in one way or another and this was their biannual family gathering. The kind man had to leave to go to his home a good ways away and so introduced me to his cousin Kadek.
Kadek welcomed me just as kindly and, after giving me one of his traditional dresses so I could enter the temple area, even offered to take me in and show me the inside of his family’s temple. We had visited a few temples in Indonesia at this point and I knew that non-Hindus were not supposed to be in the temples, so I politely refused, but was very humbled and touched to have been asked.
The ceremony commenced and was quite a sight to behold as different family members who had been secretly selected came out in full costumes dressed like some of the Balinese gods and demons. They shared stories, told jokes and overall made sure everyone was having a great time. They even made some jokes about me as I was the only white person and maybe wasn’t sitting quite right with my dress spread open or something. It was all in Balinese, so I am not exactly sure but I heard “American” as they motioned towards my legs and then everyone laughed, all in good humor.
I had to leave the ceremony a little earlier than it ended as Valerie was waiting for me at the house, but made sure to give Kadek my email before going so that we could keep in touch. Before I left, he also introduced me to his sister who also spoke perfect english and was a pleasure to meet.
The next day Kadek emailed me and we conversed back and fourth and set up a time to meet again and shared pictures from the ceremony.
A couple days later Kadek let me know that his sister whom I had met at the ceremony was getting married and wanted to know if Valerie and I could come to the wedding. I told him we would be honored and we asked if we could bring food, presents or anything else, but he said having us there was special for them and no presents or food would be needed. He did ask for us to bring our cameras and help document his sister’s special day and we were more than happy and excited to do so.
About a week later we met Kadek at a local supermarket and he showed us the way to his house. He again lent me some traditional dress as well as a headdress this time and also had a dress for Valerie (which she of course looked stunning in;-).
We arrived in the morning before most of the family were there and got to see the beautiful bride as she got ready for her special day as well as all the preparation for the food and drinks for the reception. The ceremony lasted about five or six hours as the Groom arrived and they were blessed by a priest and then the bride went into one room maybe to get advice and things from the women, while the groom stayed outside and was surrounded by elders who seemed to go around the circle giving him advice, sharing stories and maybe just letting him know about what an important role being a husband is and how he should honor and cherish his wife. After this had finished, most people ate the delicious lunch provided, left some offerings in woven baskets and went home. We stayed around for another hour or so as some more ceremonies took place and got a quick picture with Kadek and his girlfriend Acik before heading home to rest at about 3PM.
After we left, the family and the bride and groom were to drive the two hours to the husband’s house and continue the ceremony there until well after diner time. We also were fascinated to learn that part of the ceremony for becoming a husband in Bali meant that the groom has to have his front tooth filed off just a little presumably so others will know he is taken.
We really enjoyed our time in Bali and a lot of it was because of the friendship of Kadek and his family. Many people have visited Bali before and many will visit after us, but one of the things we love about traveling a little slower and with a lot more flexibility in our schedule is amazing friendships and experiences like this one that cannot be planned for, paid for or booked in a tour package. This is one of the main reasons we enjoy travel so much is because of the opportunities to make new friends, experience new cultures and see things from a different perspective. We hope to visit Bali again in the future and when we do, we will look forward to meeting up with Kadek and Acik again and would be honored to have them as guests in our country as well.
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Photos taken using a Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD LD Aspherical IF Macro Zoom Lens
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