Friday, September 2, 2011

at an odalan

at an odalan
Pak Win, a red hibiscus 
tucked in his udeng 

I am watching all the activities taking place at an odalan, a village temple ceremony where many elaborate banten offerings are being made. A man just went by carrying a long pole over his shoulder with two ducks in little wicker baskets on either end, just their heads sticking out. He hangs them up in a low tree and Made's son is teasing them, making them snap at his hand and sway in their baskets. I ate a little duck today because Made served me. She is like a friendly St. Bernard. Pak Win shows up and sits with me. I have just read his article on Balinese ceremonies, in which he says that they sacrifice all kinds of animals, the most common being chickens, ducks, geese, pigs and dogs, especially brown ones with a black muzzle. I am glad I have not seen anyone carrying a dog today. Pak Win is pleased that I am reading his many articles on Balinese culture. He explains that he is wearing his "costume": a black and white checkered udeng on his head with a red hibiscus tucked into the elaborate knot in front, a black kain with a black and white checkered overskirt, and a gray shirt. The black and white checkers symbolize a balance of light and dark, good and evil, gray is the area in between and red is for the heart. He asks me when I am leaving and says it's good to leave soon because of the political situation with the blind, crazy president being impeached. Then he asks me who was the best American president. "Lincoln," I reply, "because of his stand on freeing the slaves and because he was a wise man who believed that if you don't like someone it's because you don't know that person well enough." Robin shows up and asks Pak Win why he has such a long thumb nail. "It means an intellectual, an artist, nobility, one who doesn't dig ditches," he explains. "Maybe you should have a garden," Robin teases, "for balance." Pak Win grins and replies, "I have a mental garden." 

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