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Sunday, 01 July 2018

Bali: Indonesia's Island of Temples - Page 3

Written by Jim Chamberlain
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My cultural immersion in Bali continued during a short break for lunch in Ubud. Here in a traditional Balinese open air restaurant I feasted on "Crispy Duck", a local favorite. It is deep fried and served with rice. Tasty but a bit tough. My final exposure to the spiritualism of Bali was a live performance of the ancient "Barong" dance.

Hinduism in Bali still has a strong focus on animism and a belief in the good and bad spirits that exist in the world. The Barong dance is about those forces, good versus evil. The dance is performed to traditional music performed by musicians using local instruments. Barong is a Lion-like creature. He is the King of the spirits, leader of the army of good, and enemy of Rangda, the demon queen. The performance features actors in elaborate and colorful costumes as they tell the tale. The Barong costume takes two actors while the Rangda actor wears a mask with large fangs.

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The dance opens with two playful monkeys teasing Barong in a peaceful environment. The Rangda character appears and wreaks havoc. She casts black magic upon the dancers in an attempt to defeat the servants of the Barong. Graceful Balinese dancers express the stories of the dance using body language including gestures of fingers, hands, head and eyes. The dance ends with the final battle between Barong and Rangda in which evil is defeated.

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As my bus returned to Benoa we passed a large monument in the center of the roadway in Denpasar. In most cities the central figure of a monument is a famous resident or leader. Here it is the Hindu God, Rama, and his monkey servants that dominate this impressive expression of the importance of religion in their lives. I never did get to those famous Bali beaches but I did learn to appreciate the Balinese culture and its deeply spiritual foundation.

©Jim Chamberlain

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Last modified on Sunday, 01 July 2018

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