Sivu 56

A craftsman spray-paints ogoh-ogoh heads. Kecak dance spectaculars draw crowds at Uluwatu, Ubud, and elsewhere in Bali. h School girls are taught traditional dancing in a mountain village in central Bali. alloween may come with Scream masks, zombie walks and fake blood in the West, but little compares to the spine-tingling sights of pengrupukan (the balinese hindu new year's eve) on the Indonesian island of bali. bali's bhuta yajna ritual sees scores of ogoh-ogoh (ogre-like effigies) paraded through its streets before they are ritualistically burned. The commotion concludes well before midnight, as the balinese must be home in time to observe nyepi, new year's day and the day of silence (March 5 this year). For 24 hours, everyone has to remain quiet and indoors. The next day ngembak Geni, the ritual during which water is thrown over kissing teenagers, breaks the silence. Visitors to bali quickly realise that religion isn't the most important thing here; it's the only thing. The present-day mixture of hinduism and balinese traditions, dating back centuries, is represented in a complex calendar of ceremonies, even as global fashion brands and stylish restaurants have made a home on the island. In a land where the average household spends at least half of its income on offerings (even taxicabs' dashboards have them), pleasing the forces of good and battling those of bad are constant considerations. It's easy to see why journalist elizabeth Gilbert chose bali as the final destination in her self-reflection journey-turned bestseller Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia. . MoNstERs, silENCE ANd RoMANCE prior to new year's eve, the young men of local banjar (town councils) are busy making the village's effigies. some contribute more than one to the parade, and

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