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Jakarta Post

The spirit moves

Mon, October 24, 2016   /   12:11 am
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    Priests pray before entering Puseh Temple during Ngusaba Kapat in Selumbung village, Karangasem district, Bali. JP/ Agung Parameswara

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    A man holds up a sacred kris at Panti Timrah Temple in Paksebali village during the Dewa Masraman ritual, known as the “battle of deities”. JP/ Agung Parameswara

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    A young woman in a trance takes part in Ngusaba Kapat at Puseh Temple. JP/ Agung Parameswara

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    A woman carries a sacred statue at Petilan Temple during the Pengerebongan ritual in Kesiman village, Denpasar. JP/ Agung Parameswara

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    The ritual, held eight days after the Kuningan festival, celebrates the victory of dharma (virtue) over adharma (vice). Men dance in a trance during Ngusaba Kapat in Selumbung village. Every year, according to the Balinese Hindu calendar, villagers celebrate the arrival of their ancestors in the ritual; they dance, bite and stab themselves with kris while in a trance. JP/ Agung Parameswara

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    A boy, seen reflected in the mirror among a batch of offerings, walks to Panti Timrah Temple to attend the Dewa Masraman ritual. The ritual pays homage to ancestors through offerings and various activities centered around the gods throughout the day, before effigies of deities are installed in palanquins and carried around the temple. JP/ Agung Parameswara

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    A man carries offerings as he walks to Guman Hill during the Ngusaba Gumang ritual at Bugbug village in Karangasem. JP/ Agung Parameswara

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    The ritual, the largest in Karangasem and involving four villages, celebrates ancestors of the community where the gods from the four different villages meet with the god of Gumang Hill. Men in a trance carry palanquins during the battle of deities’ effigies, in which they rush around the temple and crash into each other. JP/ Agung Parameswara

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    A man in a trance bites a chick while dancing during the battle of effigy deities, Dewa Masraman, at Panti Timbrah Temple in Paksebali village. JP/ Agung Parameswara

My ongoing personal project is documenting metaphysical spirituality that illustrates the close relationship between the Balinese Hindu community with their ancestors in my birthplace, Bali.

Bhakti is always close to Bali’s Hindus as an intense spiritual love and devotion to God. Through religious rituals and offerings, they express themselves to their ancestors and gods in various manifestations with the aim to achieve the freedom of the soul.

Every village in Bali has its own traditional rituals that have long been practiced along with the myths developed in the communities. For example, there is a ritual to be spared the plague, one to gather the gods and another after the rice harvest.

The Balinese believe these rituals provide a balance of nature, including for people, harmonizing the unseen elements and also serving as a form of gratitude to their ancestors. It’s this spirit which is believed to give peace in their lives. I try to depict their expression when implementing the bhakti, which continue to be performed according to the Balinese calendar despite modernization and technological advances.

That is for now. Bali is probably Indonesia’s most famous tourist destination — tourists began arriving in the 1920s — and there can be no avoidance of its effects. I retain a concern that the spirit of the predecessors will be lost in the future. This project is my visual record of how Balinese with a sincere heart always uphold the spirit of the island and maintain their relationship with the gods.