There's harmony in the constant battle between good and evil
Bali is a deeply spirited island. She's formed from volcanoes, surrounded by ocean and filled with rituals and ceremonies. There is of course a reason she’s called the Island of the Gods. The Balinese believe that the soul needs to be cleansed from negative energies accumulated either during this life or even previous lives, and many ceremonies are focused on purification and the welcoming of good spirits.
The invisible spirits are part of the balance of life. There's harmony in the constant battle between good and evil, black and white, night and day, the seen and unseen. The bad spirits will stay calm as long as they're acknowledged and honored. It’s as if you’re saying, “I won’t disturb you, please don’t disturb me in return”. One might even gently persuade them to stay away.
As our studio is a Balinese compound, complete with family shrine, we called upon a Hindu priest (called pemangku) to sweep the compound clean from lingering bad spirits, and give us his blessing.
Sweep the compound clean from lingering bad spirits
Our buildings are made up of three elements; wood, stone and a thatch roof. These objects have been cut down, mined and forged. The ceremony is meant to bring these elements together into one symbolic reincarnation; the soul of our compound.
Large baskets of offerings were brought in and placed on two tables strategically placed in the heart of our studio. There was a myriad of flowers, towers of fresh fruits, spices, rice in leaves, cookies, rupiah bills, Chinese coins, and coconuts young and old. Handfuls of incense sticks were lit to purify and cleanse the space. Letting go of all the negative energies and ask the great old island souls to remain and guard us.
The most intricate panels of woven and plaited palm leaves and small cone-shaped offerings were hung to doorposts and the smaller shrines to ward off evil spirits, appease the gods, and to bring luck and prosperity.
The priest started to ring his bell, chant Sanskrit mantras and call upon the spirits from the nearby temple for their blessings. On the altar in front of him were water goblets and bowls. The priest held frangipani petals lightly in one hand and sprinkled holy water here and there with the other.
Water is life-blood to the people of Bali
Water is life-blood to the Balinese, and the sprinkling of blessed water is a central part of any purification ceremony. We received holy water over our heads, and drank it to purify our bodies. Rice was placed on our forehead for good fortune and I received a small piece of thread on my head for strength.
Once all the cleansing prayers and mantras were finished, we worked our way around the compound. More holy water was splashed around the house, at every small shrine. Slowly waving our flower-filled hands over the incense that smudged the air.
Ahhh, feels so good now.