Saturday, July 21, 2007

Bali Time

It is the 22nd of July, Sunday and we have the morning off for a change. We have just had breakfast at Dragonfly, one of the internet hotspots in Ubud. It is nice to have a morning off for a change. Usually we are having breakfast early and then off for a shoot.

There are more than 15,000 temples on the island and we have attended a number of the festivals. It is imperative that you have a sarong if you are to be admitted onto temple grounds. I have been impressed with not only the number of festivals at this time of the year but also with the friendliness of the Balinese people that we have met and who have welcomed us. The festivals take a great deal of preparation by the villagers and we have had lots of fun seeing the villagers at work and at play.

Work time for the festival starts at about 4:00 in the morning for the men who are preparing most of the food that will be used in the festival. To see twenty men sitting around wooden blocks chopping meat into a paste like consistency that will be used for satay is a sight. All of them carry two knives for the preparation of the meat. We are very careful not to offend any of them! Never, never, offend a man with a well used, razor sharp set of knives! Lots of chilies, garlic, shallots, and bamboo spikes and you are ready for cooking. We also have seen several suckling pigs being roasted over open fires, on long stakes turned by hand.

When all is ready, the people get dressed in the most beautiful sarongs and finest clothing. I have been very moved by the interaction between the fathers and young sons as prayers are said and blessings received. The traditions are being passed along from generation to generation.

The Balinese calendar is based upon a 210 day calendar year and the festivals are timed for that calendar. July is a big month for festivals and there are many each day. On two occasions we have been driving and have seen festival goers and actually stopped the cars to see where the festival was taking place. Imagine a busy highway (busy for Bali), and walking at the side of the road are approximately 1,000 people carrying banners, food, with a band and all dressed and headed to the temple grounds. Two cars pulled off to the side of the road and 8 doors flew open with 7 crazy photographers with cameras in hand trying to get to the head of the procession. It was approximately a mile walk to the temple grounds and we were allowed only into the outer courtyard because we were not wearing our sarongs. We shot for about ten minutes and when our drivers caught up with us we immediately got into proper dress. Tewfic had told us to always have our sarongs in the cars. Showing the respect to the Balinese people, we were allowed into the temple grounds to photograph the ceremony.

Today, Sunday, we will be photographing Balinese dancers who will be performing for us in a private shoot.

I will have some photographs posted soon! I promise!

I am learning Balinese time very quickly.

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