April 26th, 2017
Setting the intention for an adventure, I hit the pause button on my everyday in Denver, CO and headed to the mother island of Bali a month ago, becoming immersed in the culture, traditions, rituals, and ceremonies of the Balinese people immediately. The one word I would choose to describe Bali is “ceremony.”
I arrived during the holiest time of year and daily rituals permeate the life of this beautiful culture. Throughout Indonesia, Bali is unique for having their own religion, Balinese Hindu, a variation of Indian Hinduism. As my Balinese landlord, Ketuk, explained to me this morning, the Balinese Hindu only have 3 Gods, representing Fire, Water, and Air, whereas the Indians have many deities and specific prayers for each. He said, “In Bali, it’s more simple.”
How amazing to be in a place where 85% of the people believe in karma? Their beliefs in kindness and selfless service are based on energy and energy exchange; actions, words, and intentions come back in hopefully positive vibes.
At the end of March, Nyepi, the Balinese New Year, was celebrated. It’s mandatory that everyone must remain inside and most observe a day of silence and reflection. Working is not allowed. Some locals mentioned I could get arrested if wandering out and about. The airport even shuts down, proving their devotion in observance. I wouldn’t want to get arrested by the spiritual police!
I was invited to participate in Tawur Kesanga the night before Nyepi and witnessed each village creating statues of monsters to chase out all the evil spirits. Carried by the villages’ young boys, the monsters made their way down the narrow streets, while the girls held lit torches with scary painted faces to guide the way.
The beginning of April marks Hari Raya Galungan, another holiday and ceremony with the intent of calling down the ancestors to the earth plane for guidance and information. After ten days, there is a closing ceremony to send the gods back. The streets are beautifully decorated adorned bamboo and flowers, so the gods feel welcomed.
The vibration here is high in comparison to other places in the world that I have been. Culture and religion are not separate or in competition with one another; they are one in the same. Typically, every household, store owner, rice paddy worker, cab driver stops what they are doing three times a day to make an offering to the gods. Mindfulness is needed when walking to the store or in the villages as to not kick a beautiful display of rice, flowers, incense and bamboo leaf aside. The energy of the land has been imprinted with thousands of years of daily beauty and intention.
Rituals are the daily practices forming structure and adding to our sense of vitality and connection, or not. We all have daily routines or habits, whether it is drinking your morning coffee, checking your phone, getting kids ready for school or meditating.
Five years ago, I included dry brushing my skin, applying almond oil and jumping into a cold shower a part of my daily ritual along with yoga, meditation, and prayer, which happen to coincided with my Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training. Kundalini Yoga instills daily practices of cold showers, Ayurvedic eating, meditation, breathing to connect to spirit and more. It’s an intentional lifestyle and essential part of a happy, healthy and holy lifestyle otherwise known as the 3 H’s. Yogi Bhajan would say that every human deserves to be happy, healthy and feel connection to the Infinite truth of love.
It’s easy to let our rituals go unexamined. What are your daily rituals and do they add or take away from how you feel about yourself and your connection to spirit or the universe?
I’m so inspired by the small yet consistent acts of Balinese devotion that roll into the larger rhythm of their lives. Let’s all start to jive to the beat of vitality and growth vs. energy draining distraction, and we can start living each day from a place of connection which will deeply benefit every area of our lives!
Sending lots of island love from Bali!