Coffee and Ceremony

Lucky night. While walking along Jl Raya Ubud after an early dinner at Fair Place Warung,  I saw droves of Balinese in formal attire walking and gathering in groups. The last time such gatherings took place, the procession with the ogoh-ogoh took place.

A group of  women had taken post at the corner of Jl Raya Ubud and Jl Sri Wedari. Sensing a procession, I went to nearby Warung Schnitzel, ordered a kopi bali and took stock of the scene from the warung’s balcony. Just as I was finishing what was left in the coffee press, I noticed the crowd had gone bigger and young women with offerings on their heads and young men carrying the sacred barong masks had assembled.
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I quickly paid for my coffee just as gong music led by the ceng ceng started.
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People were  seated in a circle inside which were numerous offerings.  A man in all white,  presumably a pedandas took what seemed to be some root crops and diced them. When he finished, another pedandas scattered away grains of rice. All throughout, woman sang in a plaintive chant.
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Then a bell started to ring whereupon the kneeling crowd took a petal, clasped it between their fingers and seemed to offer it with their arms in prayer position above their heads. When the bell stopped ringing, the women put the petal in a knot on their hair. This went on about three times.
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Then everyone stood-up and one of the pedandas blessed the women with the offerings.
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Gong music started and the procession began with the women leading followrd by the barong masks and the barong ket then the musicians and finally the crowd.
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It was such a thrilling scene with the barong masks held high above the carriers’ heads towering over a sea of people.  The procession went down Jl Raya Ubud then turned left to Jl Hanoman.

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