After days of preparing for Hari Buda Cemeng Kelawu, it is finally over and all that is left to do is to sort through the remains of the offerings.
The day began early as we had word last night that the pemangku (holy man) would be here first thing, so everyone was washed and ready when word came that he wouldn’t be here till 1pm. So as everything was ready, the family pottered around doing last minute jobs. Bu Badung suddenly realised that she was short 4 decorations so she & Putu quickly rustled them up which was fantastic as it meant I could record them creating the beautiful decorations made specially for temples using young coconut leaves.
Sudani & Arista, my brother, DeBut’s eldest child, arrived. Sudani headed out straight away to the post office to post her packages. Sudani has an ebay business which keeps her very busy. If you have ever bought silver jewelry from Indonesia via ebay, then you may have dealt with my sister! While Sudani was out, Arista and I sat together outside the bedrooms with Eka, Debut’s grandson. I was wearing a sarong ready for the ceremony, and he was having fun hiding his car in the folds of my sarong. I haven’t seen Arista for years, so it was just lovely chatting to her. She lives with her husband at Sudani’s house now, as she works for Sudani. Arista was able to help me when I had trouble understanding Eka who largely speaks Balinese. I have learnt quite a lot of Balinese from Eka who being only 2, relies on a few phrases which he repeats endlessly. “Da Sulung” is one of his favourites – means, ‘Almost fell over’! Isn’t that so cute!
Komang, Debut’s youngest son, has a few chooks that he is breeding for sale. He walked passed us with one of his roosters held tightly in his arms. His sister, Arista, explained that he was meeting up with friends on the street, so grabbing my camera, I followed him. Down the steep stairs outside our gate, passed Debut, who was washing the boss’ car, to a few houses down the street where a couple of older men were squatted or seated on the road holding their roosters.
The men spend time with their roosters like this both to get them used to being handled and also to encourage their aggression
against other roosters. Aggressive roosters are prized and worth a lot of money which is why Komang is very dedicated to his breeding program!
I was then invited to join I Luh closer to the sanggah. She was sitting in the bale umum (communal bale) making ketupat with another family member. I was instantly offered a lesson but firstly I asked if I could record them making them.
I used to be able to make a ketupat but it is one of those skllls that if you don’t use it, you lose it! After recording, I Luh began to show me how to make them but she gave up because I was so slow! So instead she quickly made them and then handed them over to me for the tightening up part. I loved this as I was given what looked like a huge tangle of strips and by gently pulling the weave tighter, the ketupat would gradually take shape. I was so disappointed when they had enough! These ketupat were tied empty in groups of 5 however they are usually made to cook rice in. The ketupat is half to three quarters filled with uncooked rice and then boiled until the rice is cooked. After it is cooked, the ketupat is sliced open and inside is a dense diamond shape of rice. Gado gado is often served with chopped ketupat. Yum!
After making the ketupat, I returned back to our family compound and discovered a flurry of movement! Children were being washed while the adults were putting on their pakaian adat (traditional clothing). I was urged to also finish getting dressed. I Luh lent me a kebaya (shirt) and selendang which I put on. I then checked with Sudani to see if I passed muster and other than suggesting that I rotate my sarong slightly so that the end fold was in the middle, I was given the thumbs up!
As everyone was ready, they headed down to the sanggah. I headed down with Arista who was one of the last to get ready. Arista took so long because she didn’t bring her own pakaian adat so she needed to borrow some but it took her a while to find ones that she was prepared to wear! Listening to her making comments about the sarongs her Mum owned reminded me of the way Bec talks about my clothes when she is looking through them for something to wear! Daughters are the same everywhere apparently!
Up on the bale in the sanggah, the pemangku was officiating the ceremony with a small group of women standing around him chatting and checking their phones while waiting for him to finish blessing a variety of offerings.
Once the pemangku had finished, the women each took one of the blessed offerings and some holy water. Together in no particular order, they walked around the sanggah dipping the blessed offering in the holy water and then gently spraying the water on each of the shrines. When this was finished they then headed out of the sanggah and up to our family compound where they did it again on our family temples
At the same time, one of the men set the fire under 3 short lengths of bamboo. Heating bamboo makes it pop loudly and if all 3 pop, it is a good sign. We heard 2 pops, which meant according to Sudani, one of the lengths must have been faulty in some way.
While this was happening, the rest of the family sat gossiping and catching up with each others news. Being a major ceremony in the family temple, family arrived from all over Bali to participate, so there was much catching up to do!
People then moved en masse into the sanggah to seat themselves in preparation for the final part of the ceremony. The men sat cross legged on their shoes while the younger women largely kneeled on the very uncomfortable pebbly surface of the sanggah. However the older women sat on the low bale at the back of the sanggah which was significantly more comfortable and kinder on older joints and knees!
As they sat, small aluminum bowls of flowers were handed out to family groups. Each family put one on the ground in front of them ready for the ceremony and then passed the rest onto the next family. Eventually the ceremony began. Each person held their hands up in front of their faces in prayer. The first prayer is to prepare their thoughts and focus their concentration. The second prayer is towards Tuhan Yang Masa Esa (God). Each took a flower from the bowl and held it up in front of the face between their hands.
When the prayer was finished, the flower was placed behind one ear. The 3rd prayer is also done holding a flower in prayer and is for a god similar to Mother Nature. The 4th prayer, again with a flower is for the world we live in. The final prayer was done with empty hands and is to say ‘Terima Kasih’ (thankyou) and Amen. After the 5 prayers, everyone sat quietly deep in thought when all of a sudden 2 toddlers who had been running amok during the service had a huge barney. They both started screaming and shouting at each other loudly until their older sisters each jumped up to quieten them. Then one of the Bu Jero’s (holy women) walked around with holy water. Each person is given a little bit of holy water three times in their right palm. The first 2 are slurped and the last is smoothed onto the top of the head. Then another Bu Jero followed behind with rice. Each person held out their right hand supported from below with the left hand and a pinch of rice was placed in it. The rice is then tipped into the left hand and using the right hand, a small pinch is pushed into the hollow of the throat, a small pinch placed in the middle of the forehead and the remainder sprinkled onto the top of the head, being the holiest part of the body as it is the closest to God.
Then the older women from each family group went up to the bale to find their offerings which were put together and carried home if they lived in the compound or to their car. Arista carried one of our family’s offering home on her head
to the bale where it was put with the others. Later Bu Badung and Dadong sorted through them all. The krupuks and chocolate was put in one basket, the fruit in another and the offering bases and decorations which weren’t damaged were salvaged too and put into another basket whereas everything else was put in the bin.
What a day! Poor Bu Badung by this time was in bed with a splitting headache and aching joints. Sudani made her some bubur (rice porridge) which is the Indonesian equivalent of chicken soup before heading home. She still had to take care of the offerings needed for her house in Denpasar!