Experiencing a Culture That Reveres a Good Party

Article by: unknown author

Fri August 10, 2012 | 00:00 AM


The start of our Balinese festival sojourn begins. We arrive at the Ibah Villas, a place I christened nearly 17 years ago with my 35th birthday with 25 friends (we were the first guests in the hotel). Immediately, we hear that there’s a teeth filing & deity ceremony directly across the road from us. Serendipity! Or as my friend Pheonyx – pictured here in our ceremonial garb – says, “Serenchipity!” We follow the thousands of villages and families to the temple for the celebration.

You gotta love the industriousness of the Balinese. In the US, we throw all our energy into our careers and work, while in Bali, all that firepower goes into the village celebrations which may take weeks to create. Six foot scaffolds of fruits, flower towers with a fragrance that will lift your spirits to the heavens, and exotic fabrics & artwork adorn the village temple on this sacred day when both those who’ve passed and teenagers are celebrated at the same time.


The high priests sit elevated on an elaborately decorated stage chanting throughout the ceremonies. At some point, the experience of the incense burning, the heavenly fragrance of the flowers, and the baritone-voiced priests creates a hypnotic state. And, right at that moment, we had a small earthquake (I’m not kidding) which scattered the crowd away from the buildings full of ornamentation and candles.


Teeth filing is one of the key rites of passage of a Balinese teen. The purpose is to make sure that there’s no fangs in your mouth, so in case you die young, the gods won’t mistake you for a demon. Here’s a California beauty who lives with her mom in California, but has come to her ancestral home in Bali to be with her father (and her mom, pictured here) while she gets her sacred dental work. 140 kids take part in the celebration while 70 people who’ve passed and had their full cremation ceremony are saluted and introduced to the deities.