A Pura Pilgrimage

An iconic Manhattan skyline... hanging in a Balinese family compound.

My friend Bagus (Balinese for good or nice) owns a warung a few minutes’ walk from where I live; he does most of the cooking too. But just a few years back, he worked as a chef in New Jersey, and then aboard cruise ships. He traveled often into Manhattan, loved spending time in Central Park. His adventures took him to California, Alaska, Vancouver, and elsewhere; and he was on his way to Manhattan’s twin towers with friends on the morning of 9/11 but was delayed because the bus was running late. He yearned to stay on a few more years, but felt pressured by his compatriots (working also in the US) to go home.

Bagus and Teja

Bagus returned to Bali a few years ago, married, had a boy and opened his restaurant. I often stop in for a bit of cap cay and rice, or sometimes just for a chat.

Last week, I learned that a rare and significant series of ceremonies had begun in his village to mark the re-dedication of the Pura Dalem (temple). As Bagus explained, it was a once-in-a-lifetime event; neither him nor his father had ever witnessed a temple being re-dedicated. It was an essential event in the life of a temple; but it could take years for villagers to raise sufficient funds.

Bagus, Dayu, Bagus' mother

Preparations and offerings had been launched more than two months ago, and there were different stages of the process that would last a few weeks in total; so that every few days, the designated ceremonies that were held (established by the priest or those with knowledge of tradition) reached a higher and holier level.

With an open invitation from Bagus to accompany him and his family to one of the re-dedication stages, I leaped at the chance. Today, under a cloudless sky, we headed out to his village of Serongga.

Bagus' father and sculpture created entirely of rice - covered with food coloring!

After a visit with his family, we changed into traditional dress. With Bagus’ father leading the way (he is in charge of the temple re-dedication budget), we headed to the Pura Dalem; and from there, we walked to another temple, the Pura Desa, where the festivities – ceremonies, music, dancing, performing and prayers – began, and from where the procession would begin, leading villagers back to Pura Dalem.

Without further adieu, a sampling of photos from this afternoon. Truly, sometimes a picture conveys what words simply cannot…

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