Sunday, 28 August 2011

Royal weddings

I'm still on Nusa Penida and its great here. All the people are lovely and we've been having a few adventures. Some of us took a day trip to Tembeling forest, where there is a path that leads to a pool by the ocean. It took maybe half and hour or 45 mins to walk to the pool, all flat and downhill to a small temple next to a freshwater spring and natural pool. We started getting undressed to go swimming and the boys jumped in but the guides said we were not allowed to, we had to go to another pool. To get there we climbed down some rocks and boulders, gong down. When we got there it was a bit of a let down, a pool that cam just below the knees, with little shellfish in it. Still it was very hot, and the view from the pool was amazing, we saw the ocean with sharp rocks and very large waves. You couldn't go swimming, it would be to dangerous. We then had to walk back, up a very steep narrow staircase that was carved into the cliff, i couldn't look up as the climb was very difficult and I couldn't bear to see how much further I had to go. Looking down was a bit mistake to, on slip and you were over the edge, falling onto sharp rocks at the bottom. The walk back was exhausting, but very good exercise. On the way there we saw a man on the path, hoping to catch a monkey to sell as a pet. In Indonesia they have no respect for animals, they are kept in appalling conditions and not looked after very well. He would get 200,000Rp for a monkey, about $25 which is a lot of money over here. People even catch birds, tie strings to their legs and sell them to children to play with, and they are so rough with them, they have no idea that animals can feel pain.

Speaking of animals the preparations for the wedding have been going on this week. They've had to  kill a lot of animals for the feast. Bali Hinduism is a mixture of Hinduism, Buddhism and Animism, where they practice animal sacrifice. They way that the animals have to be killed is horrible. They hold them, or tie them up and make a very small cut in their neck so they very very slowly bleed to death. its not like Halal where the cut is big enough that the animal goes to sleep first, them bleeds to death, its conscious for most of it. It so cruel and the pigs were the worst. For about 5 mins the scream with pain and fear, its one of the worst noises I'v ever heard. They have to do it this way apparently but it seems horrible and unnecessary.

But anyway onto the wedding itself. It was very bizzare. They had an offering table set up in the courtyard of the house, then some other offerings on the floor in front with a rope around it then a basket on a stick with other offerings in it. These were food and little decorations made from palm and coconut leaves, flowers, and bamboo. There was fruit, some chickens, quail, cigarettes and other random objects. First the bride and groom cam in with their families and sat on some chairs for a while, nothing seemed to be going on. Then the priest called them over to  the offereing table, knelt in front of it with them behind him and started chanting and ringing a bell. At verious time the older woman in the family would light incense, move baskets of offering around, spray water over things and kneel and join with the chanting. This went of for about 20 mins with the bride and groom just sitting still and it seemed like they weren't part of the wedding and that it was just chaos and confusion going on around them. Then they stood up and were given things to hold and walked around themselves for a bit, the man with a sword in his and and the woman with a basket following behind him. Not many of the guests were watching, they were eating, chatting and smoking. Then the man cut one of the ropes around the offerings with his sword, walked through with the wife behind him, cut the other rope, then went to the other side of the square, cut that rope, walked through the middle and cut the final rope. Then he cut the head off a chicken. After that they went to the basket on the stick and shook it till everything fell out (to release the blessings) them the man was given a shovel with a plastic bag on one end and something on the other, put it over his shoulder and walked to the other temple with the wife and the older women behind him.

In the temple was another priest and a huge offering table with many things on it, including a whole spit roasted pig (who had to die so horribly). They knelt down with and the second priest started chanting and ringing bells whilst the women prayed. I asked why the women prayed, not the men and it turns out the men get to entertain the guests and the women in the family have to participate. Most guests seemed un-interested in the entire thing. While all this was going on there was a traditional band playing music which was very good. Those women who are pregnant, or on their periods aren't allowed in temples as they are considered unclean. It turns out this is why we weren't allowed in the swimming pool at Tembeling which I think is a bit unfair really.

Once the wedding was over people ate, chatted then the bride and groom left. The next day they arrived for the celebration, dressed in even fancier clothes then the day before. They sat on chairs greeting everyone while people just sat around, eating some more until mid afternoon, then it was over. No party or anything, just chatting. We were a bit bored so we went to the most gorgeous beach, Crystal Bay. I went on a scooter with the Australain woman here and her 3 year old son. Going back there were some steep hills and we had to walk up as the bike wouldn't take all 3 of us. I've actually had a go a t driving a scooter, just around the car park and its hard, I just get lifts from everyone else but if I wanted to hire one there really would be nothing stopping me as there are no police on the island. That evening after they left a few of the men put on a rock concert and it turns out they all the equipment somewhere. They sang a combination of western and Indonesian music and one of the highlights was the Australian girl getting up to sing welcome to the jungle by guns and roses. It was a good night, fueled by a few beers (but not to many).

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