Purnama, or full moon, is a very special day in Bali when the gods descend upon the island to spread goodwill. During the full moon, colourful ceremonies are held in Temples in almost every corner of Bali. Prayers, music and celebration take place. For a westerner, the activities are overwhelming to the senses, but an experience not to miss.
In recent years attending a full moon ceremony became common amongst tour companies in Bali. Busloads of tourists are dropped off at main Temples only to be left to wonder what is taking place. For a ceremony so serious, being left to wonder hardly accomplishes much for those wanting to know more about Balinese culture.
It is possible to attend ceremonies in small villages, and they are aplenty throughout Bali. Small villages offer an authentic experience and the likelihood of being the only foreigner at the Temple is high. My first experience at a full moon ceremony was in Penempahan, which until recently wasn’t identified on a map.
Upon arrival, I was met by Gede, a young Balinese, who was curious why I was there. After I told him, he welcomed me in the Temple and took me through every part of the ceremony. Gede also explained to me what was happening right in front of me. I not only witnessed the procession into the temple but also learned the importance of offerings for the gods. Quite especially, I was blessed by the priest during the ceremony and prayed with the villagers. The Balinese Hindu pray for good health, good fortune, or plentiful rice crops. The Balinese are descended from Indian Hindus, though over time, Balinese Hinduism developed into its own unique religion.
It turned out Gede is the son of the Village Leader. Since that day, Gede and I have become great friends; I’ve been a guest at his family compound and today we are working on a project together. Throughout the blog, you will read about Gede. You never do know who you will meet during travel. You also don’t know when your family will expand as Gede and I are now brothers.