The chief of the Indonesian Broadcast Commission for Bali (KPID-Bali), Anak Agung Gede Rai Sahadewa, said he will coordinate with TV and radio broadcast stations in anticipation of Bali’s official day of silence – Nyepi Tahun Baru Saka 1937 that falls on March 21, 2015.
For a 24-hour period commencing from sunrise on March 21, 2015 – all broadcast station in Bali and national stations providing broadcast feeds to Baliare required to go silent and respect the enforced 24-hours of meditative reflection that marks the start of every Hindu New Year in Bali.
During the Nyepi Period Bali closes down for a 24-hour period. All flights to and from the island cease and streets empty as guests and hotel staff are forcibly sequestered to hotel premises.
Quoted by Metrobali.com, Sahadewa told parliamentarians on Friday, February 2, 2015, “I will coordinate and correspond with television and radio stations in order that all broadcasts in Bali stop for 24 hours on Nyepi Day.”
“On Nyepi day last year all broadcasts of radio and television stopped for 24-hours in Bali. This year the same rules will apply,” said Sahadewa.
Meanwhile, the chairman of Commission I of the Bali House of Representatives (DPRD-Bali), Ketut Tama Tenaya, explained that the cessation of all TV and radio broadcasts in Bali on Nyepi Day is done to respect the Bali-Hindu religious tenets for honoring the day of “Beratha Penyepian” – namely: “amati karya” (no work), “amati geni” (no open fires), “amati lelungan” (no journeys) and “amati lelanguan” (refrain from pleasure).
Secret Bali:: Behind The Tourist Facade by Jill Gocher with Jean Couteau
Published by Now! Bali Publication 120 pages (Courtesy of UWRF)
People who are in Bali, either seasonal tourists or contented expats, may eventually realize that the island has partly turned superficial — with the growing presence of lavish restaurants and shops, luxurious hotels and villas and glittering nightspots gradually transforming the once pristine island.
The traditional life, however, continues as it has for centuries, becoming more secret, hidden behind doors, behind walls, behind the buzz of the ever-growing tourist industry.
As Australian photographer Jill Gocher simply puts it, ”Before, when tourists came here, one thing they would like to do was to see, learn and enjoy the culture, but now it turns into like ‘which party will we go to tonight?’, ‘which restaurant should we dine in?’, or ‘where’s our villa?’”
In her new book Secret Bali, Gocher records Balinese culture with her captivating words and images, to bring it to the attention of people and make them see what the real Bali is about.
Behind all those modern facades, Bali remains a place where “spirits permeate every single corner of the island. They are kept peaceful and placated with daily offerings and prayers that create harmony and special energy for which Bali is renowned”.
In modern buildings, like hotels, “all those statues and temple buildings are not just architectural decoration”. Beautifully made offerings in open doorways are part of the daily spiritual routine to appease the gods in the visible world and the spirits of the invisible underworld (sekala and niskala).
Gocher takes us on a journey in one “mystic evening”, the evening before Galungan — one of the biggest religious celebrations in Bali, as well as visiting the ancient temple complex of Gunung Kawi, the holy spring of Yeh Massam, Ubud’s sacred monkey forest and other places.
Readers will also find it interesting to get a glimpse of the island’s rituals — a-once-in-200-years celebration at Gunung Raung Temple, a Balinese royal wedding, the house-blessing ceremony melaspas, tajen (cockfighting) and ngaben (cremation).
“If one can see only one part of Balinese culture while in Bali, the most spectacular and important of all Balinese rituals is ngaben — the culmination of a person’s life and the sendoff to the next life or afterlife.”
Having moved to Ubud — the island’s artistic and cultural heartland, nine years ago, Gocher has witnessed the changes brought about by the dynamic tourism industry.
Early in the morning, she would head to the traditional market and capture the images of locals’ daily activities, as described in the chapter on Ubud Market.
“Even a visit to Ubud Market reveals much that is Balinese. Try a visit in the early hours before 9 or 10 a.m. when the tourists start to arrive and the ambience changes to a big bazaar,” writes Gocher, who has delighted in photographing the market since she was a student.
Historian and art critic Jean Couteau writes three stories for the book, one of which is titled Food for the Gods, where he complains that Balinese culture, down to its food — not to mention its arts and music — is more and more ‘fabricated’ to suit tourists’ expectations.
Published by NOW! Bali Publications, the work of Gocher and Couteau has been hailed as a “marvelous combination of talents and creativity [that] came together to bring the ‘seen’ and ‘unseen’ elements, the sekala and niskala of Balinese life together in the pages”.
(c) Desy Nurhayati, The Jakarta Post, Ubud, Bali | Feature | Mon, December 15 2014, 10:48 AM
The iconic Kecak dance, performed by large groups of shirtless men chanting in rhythmic counterpoint as other dances presents scenes from the ancient Mahabrata, is a staple of the Balinese dance repetroire that is enjoyed by thousands of Bali visitors each day.
Performed by groups of tens or more men – oftentimes numbering as much as 150, each segment of the kecak is punctuated by choruses of chanted “cak…cak….cak” (pronounced as ‘chak,chak, chak’) .
Dance aficionados in Bali argue endlessly that the haunting sounds of the kecak represents the sounds of an army of primates in the service of monkey-like warrior Vanara; duplicates the percussive sounds sounds of the drums and gongs of a gamelan orchestra (gamelan suara); imitates the sound of the household gecko lizard or, at its most basic level, draws its inspiration from the “cak” singing of farmers heard in the evening from roadside arak stands across Bali.
When we sat all these alternative descriptions before an aged Bali dance master, the old man scratched his chin and suggested that each explanation of the unique sound of the Kecak, considered individually or severally, might well be true.
The earliest reports of the Kecak predate the Dutch occupation of Bali when, according to local folklore, the village of Bona in Gianyar was besieged by a deadly epidemic that claimed a large number of lives. Prayers for salvation were offered in a local temple when a Sanghyan medium, deep in trance, delivered a message from the resident deities demanding a new form of music and dance unaided by the bronze instruments of a traditional Balinese orchestra.
More contemporary chronicles claim the dance was rejuvenated and reworked in the village of Bedulu by German-born artists Walter Spies and Balinese dancer Wayan Limbak to support a film project in the 1930s or, alternatively, was reborn in Bona under the supervision of I Gusti Lanang Oka and I Nengah Murdarya.
The most recent revitalization of Kecak is credited to I Made Sija of Bona who helped organize and train Kecak cultural groups who eventually traveled the world promoting Balinese culture starting in the mid-1960s.
Not subject to debate is that the fact that Kecak dance presents a scene from the ancient Ramayana tale of the battle between good and evil within the context of the abduction of Sita and the ensuing battle by Vanara against the evil King Rahawana.
Setting aside the hour or so to attend a Kecak dance during a Bali trip should form part of every visitors “must do” list. Village-based dance groups present dances on an almost daily basis across Bali, with one of the most popular presentations found at sunset each evening at the Uluwatu Temple in South Bali.
Those contemplating taking in a kecak might find the follow plot synopsis useful in following the story line.
Rama, Sita and Laksmana enter the dance area where the Kecak chorus of men, sitting in concentric circles have literally “set the stage” by singing a mesmerizing chanted prologue. As the three dancers circulate a golden deer appears, begging capture by Prince Rama. In pursuit of the golden deer, Rama leaves Sita and Laksmana alone on the dance floor.
Suddenly a scream for “help” is heard, prompting SIta to insist to Laksmana that the voice in distress must be that of her husband Rama. Sita implores a reluctant Laksmana to investigate the screams, snidely suggesting Laksmana perhaps seeks advantage in the death of her beloved Rama. Insulted at Sita’s insinuations, Laksmana departs the stage leaving Sita utterly alone in the forest.
The evil King Rahwana appears, intent on kidnapping Sita. His initial attempts are unsuccessful causing him to transform himself into Bhagawan – an elderly man begging water from the Goddess Sita. When Site returns with the old man’s water she is kidnapped by Rahwana still posing as the aged Bhagawan.
Sita’s screams for assistance are heard by the mythical Garuda bird flying nearby who responds by trying aid the captured Goddess. The Garuda’s efforts to assist, however, are thwarted when Rahwana shoots the bird’s wing with an arrow. The dastardly Rahwana then brings Sita to Alengka Pura – his personal palace.
Meanwhile, Rama, his loyal servant and Laksmana have become lost in the forest of the Ayodya Palace. Longing for his beloved wife Sita, who is now in the palace of the evil Rahwana, Rama seeks the assistance of the White Monkey Hanoman to deliver his ring to the captive Sita as sign of their enduring love.
Accompanied by the demoness niece of Rahwana, Trijata, Sita now spends her days lamenting the absence of her husband Rama.
Later, at the Alengka Palace, the White Monkey Hanoman appears, declaring himself the Emissary of Prince Rama and presents Sita with the ring of her husband. Sita, in turn, presents flowers to Hanoman to be given to Rama, together with a message imploring for urgent rescue. Wasting no time, Hanoman wreaks havoc on the Alengka Palace, destroying much of Rahwana’s princely estate. In retaliation, the guards of the palace capture Hanoman who is bound and prepared to be burnt at the stake. Calling on his considerable reserves of magical power, Hanoman escapes and rescues Sita to be returned to Rama.
Spectacular New Balinese Dance Performance Presented Four Nights Per Week at Bali Culture Center in Nyuh Kuning, Ubud
Adding to the growing number of spectacular dance and stage performances available to Bali visitors, the Bali Culture Center (BCC) in Nyuh Kuning Ubud now presents a rare and mesmerizing presentation of the Tektok Dance four nights per week.
Taken from the epic Mahabrata story of India, the Ubud presentation tells of a struggle between King Yudhistira and his brothers and his archrival Duryodhana (Kurava). Lured into a game of chance, Kurava manages to persuade Yudhistira to wager and lose his entire Kingdom.
Claiming the defeated Yudhistira and his brothers as slaves, Kurava seeks the ultimate humiliation of forcing the losing King to undress his Queen and offer her to his nemesis.
A battle of the demi-gods proceeds with Truth and Goodness eventually triumphing over the evil Kurava in the end.
Originating from Lombok, the Tek Tok Dance has been reworked by celebrated choreographers I Made Sidia and I Gusti Gde Jelantik. The music that accompanies the dance is produced solely by syncopations and harmonies from a chorus of human voices.
Working with the seminal influence of a traditional dance form found in Lombok, Sidia and Jelantik have created an entirely new addition to the Bali-Lombok dance repertoire that is now presented every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evening at 6:30 pm.
Presented on a colossal scale, tickets are only Rp. 190,000 for adults and Rp. 140,000 for children.
For information and reservations telephone +62-(0)361-978144 or +62-(0)82144735658.
I Wayan Juniarta, The Jakarta Post, Ubud, Bali | Archipelago | Sat, June 21 2014, 11:17 AM
The first-ever comprehensive book on I Gusti Nyoman Lempad, the late Balinese painter, sculptor and architect, was launched Thursday night at the Agung Rai Museum of Arts (ARMA) in Ubud, with poet and journalist Goenawan Mohamad drawing a parallel between Lempad and Spanish legend Pablo Picasso.
“Lempad is one of two painters in the world who were able to present the erotic subject-matter in a profound and meaningful way. The first was Lempad, the second was Picasso,” Goenawan said.
Goenawan recalled that he first met Lempad in 1968, during which the great maestro showed him a series of his paintings on Jaya Prana Layon Sari, a local tragic love folklore story.
The paintings touched Goenawan not only because they spoke about the struggle between the common people against an oppressive king, but also because they underlined Lempad’s mastery in capturing the beauty of human body.
“The paintings mesmerized me of the respect and appreciation of the human form. In his works, erotic subject matter transcended mere eroticism and the human body rose above its physical properties,” he said.
Lempad was born in 1862 and died in 1978 was an undagi, a Balinese term for a respected multi-talented artist, well-known for his black and white paintings, masterful lines and his enduring love for folklore.
He was also an accomplished architect of ritual paraphernalia, including cremation towers and wooden sarcophagi. His sculptures and carvings decorate important temples in Gianyar and Ubud and he also played an important role in the design and construction of Ubud’s Puri Lukisan Museum and Pura Taman Saraswati , a temple famous for its lotus pond.
Lempad, a Timeless Balinese Master is a weighty 312-page hardcover, which is richly illustrated with his work, including those displayed in museums abroad and in private collections.
It was co-authored by Jean Couteau — a French scholar who has lived in Bali for decades and played a pivotal role in deciphering the island’s contemporary arts to the Western audience —, Ana Gaspar and Antonio Casanova.
Gaspar and Casanova are wealthy art collectors that specialize in pre-modern arts. The couple first encountered Lempad’s works seven years ago when they visited the Lempad Pavillion at the Neka Art Museum.
“The works instantly gave me goosebumps,” Casanova recalled.
“I was instantly aware that he must be a very powerful artist, one that was still connected to nature and lived in accordance with the old ways,” he said adding that he had tried to find information and books on Lempad but was unsuccessful.
“It was then that I decided to write a book on Lempad.”
Bali Chairman of Tour Operators Association Explains Why the Island’s Most Sacred Temple of Besakih is Absent from Local Tour Activities
The Jakarta Post quotes the chairman of the Bali chapter of the Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies (ASITA-Bali) Ketut Ardana who admits that many tour and travel agencies avoid or limit offering Bali’s Mother Temple of Besakih due to poor service, inadequate infrastructure and the resulting negative customer experience.
Ardana said that, like many destinations on Bali, Pura Besakih need a revamped focus on visitor satisfaction in order not to be blacklisted from tour itineraries.
Ardana acceded that although Besakih was of keen interest to tourists, aggressive and coercive free-lance guides and parking attendants who charge high fees have taken the shine off the “Besakih experience.” He also noted large quantities of trash and debris at Besakih that is left unattended after the frequent ceremonies held at the temple complex.
“We’ve took Besakih off our list several years ago. We’ve actually filed complaints about these issues, but the management (of the complex) has not done anything significant,” Ardana explained.
Adana said it was always possible for local communities to take the necessary steps to redeem a destination’s reputation, citing Kintamani and Sangeh where services have recently improved.
The hilltop location of Kintamani was plagued by boat operators offering trips on lake while charging illegal fees, an abundance of trash and insistent beggars and street vendors that were a vexation to tourist visitors. Over the past three years, however, steps by local and the government to improve services and the designation of the area as a World Geopark has done much to restore Kintamani’s reputation of the regency of Bangli’s top tourism destination.
Similarly, the Sangeh monkey forest has seen the number of complaints from tourists decline following clean-up efforts and the introduction of steps to control contact between visitors and the site’s monkeys.
Said Ardana, “We consider Sangeh a safe and comfortable place for tourists.”
Hoping that improvements could be also introduced at the Besakih Temple complex, Ardana called on the Karanasem regency administration to control local tour guides and their aggressive behavior towards visitors could be addressed.
Long, Long Ago , back in the far misty memory of time, there was an East Indian priest named Rsi Markandeya. It was in the 8th century that this priest, according to a “Lontar” (traditional palm leaf book), set off on spiritual journey, walking across the island of Java to spread the teachings of Hinduism.
Eventually, he and his large group of followers reached the island of Bali and attempted to settle in the vicinity of Taro (a locale north of Ubud). Unluckily, they were struck down by a cholera epidemic and many perished. Rsi Markandeya led the surviving devotees back to Java, where they re-grouped and after a while made their way to Bali again, although this time their number was somewhat diminished.
Upon returning to Bali, the priest was drawn to a place where the two branches of the river Wos converged, pulled there by the intense energy and light which emanated from this spot. Rsi Markandeya was inspired to meditate there and while doing so, received a strong message from the Gods. They told him to proceed to Mount Agung(Bali’s center of spirituality), and there he was to bury five precious metals (Panca Datu) in the ground as a foundation of power for the temple of Besakih (known in Bali as the Mother Temple).
This he and his followers did, and afterwards they returned to settle in the spiritually potent location where the two rivers joined, known as Campuhan. There, in that mystical vortex of nature, he and his faithful followers constructed a temple and they named it Pura Gunung Lebah.
Now growing along the banks of the two rivers were many kinds of plants with marvelous healing qualities, so they christened their new home UBAD, which translated to the healing place or medicine.
Through the following centuries and continuing up to the present time, many Hindu devotees have come regularly to this special place to meditate, bathe and take some of the holy water for cleansing rituals and temple ceremonies. With the passing of time, the name UBAD gradually evolved to the name UBUD.
Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2013 October 11-15.
More than 170 famous writers, performers, artists, musicians and visionaries are slated to appear at the 2013 Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (UWRF) to be held October 11-15, 2013.
Coming to the festival are U.K. bestselling author Sebastian Faulks (Birdsong, Devil May Care), Lionel Shriver (We Need to Talk about Kevin), Lonely Planet co-founder Tony Wheeler, Australian cartoonist Michael Luenig and Richard Flanagan.
Coming to the Ubud festival in 2013 are Man Booker long-listed authorsvRuth Ozeki (A Tale for the Time Being) and Tash Aw (Five Star Billionaire) and India literary pop star Amish Tripathi. Other international guests include David Vann (Legend of a Suicide), two-time Miles Franklin winnerKim Scott (That Deadman Dance), American talent Nami Munn, and one of France’s most prolific writers, Alain Mabanckou.
A world-class line-up of Indonesia’s finest and most successful writers and thinkers — including preeminent poet and man-of-letters Goenawan Mohamad; award-winning writer Ayu Utami; bestselling author and singer, celebrated filmmaker Garin Nugroho; Laksmi Pamuntjak, Ahmad Fuadi and more than 45 others — ensures the 2013 Festival represents the best of Indonesian literature.
Along with the 75 sessions comprising the main program spread across three main venues, another 40 venues across Ubud will host special events, literary and cultural workshops, book launches, art programs and film screenings.
Free children’s and youth programs, including a special workshop with bestselling children’s book writer Morris Gleitzman will engage visitors of all ages.
Over five days and nights, Ubud will come alive with live music and performances, food and art markets and parties that run late into the night. Expect fascinating cross-cultural conversations, high-profile international authors, and the opportunity to discover new and exciting local voices at this year’s Ubud Writers & Readers Festival.
Now here’s a challenge: visit Bali’s cultural center of Ubud and not see any art. Creativity is everywhere here, from pura (temples) to palaces, galleries to gardens, with shops and handicrafts and lovingly decorated shrines. In this village there is a sense that beauty is cherished, though in general Bali is one island that really knows how to work a stone carving and a water feature.
Walking around Ubud it seems every second shop is a gallery, or has art for sale, with almost too much to choose from should the traveler decide to buy.
Ubud’s history goes back to the 8th century, when a Javanese Buddhist priest meditated at the confluence of the two Wos rivers at Campuhan, just west of the modern-day town centre. A shrine was established and the area became a centre of natural medicine and healing, giving Ubud its name from ubad, ancient Balinese for medicine.
To appreciate contemporary Balinese art it’s useful to look at some classical Balinese art, and west of town on Jalan (street) Sanggingan is a good place to start. Here you’ll find the Neka Art Museum, which aims to help visitors learn more about Balinese art and culture, with a rich collection of local, Indonesian and global works. Collector and former teacherSuteja Neka established the museum, which opened in 1982, to help preserve Bali’s artistic legacy, and the surrounding gardens are cool on a hot afternoon.
Walking towards town you will pass a number of small galleries, and another worth a look is Sika, which has been promoting contemporary Indonesian and Balinese fine art since 1996. Collections by young and established artists are displayed around a peaceful courtyard.
Symon‘s large “Art Zoo” studio is a bit further down, and this entertaining American (who ran away from home when he was 17 to look for writer Henry Miller) has lived in Indonesia for decades, producing paintings drawing on Balinese customs and pop art. He said he was moving from this location, but welcomes visitors to his “Art Zoo Camp Color”, two hours north of Ubud (inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Eating is also an art, and Ubud is fortunate to have a world-class restaurant in Mozaic, located approximately halfway between Sika and Neka. Mozaic serves culinary art – an innovative blend of classic French techniques and Indonesian ingredients. It offers an experience rather than just a meal; on arrival guests relax in the slickly modern lounge with a canapé before they are escorted to the tropical gardens, where the soft lighting is perfect for romantic foodies.
French-American chef Chris Salans opened his award-winning venture in 2001, and it was the first restaurant in SE Asia to be recognized as one of Les Grandes Tables du Monde, and is listed as the best restaurant in Indonesia by Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2013. Diners choose from four six-course degustation menus, including a vegetarian option, with optional wine pairings by sommelier Cok Bagus Senajaya from the excellent winelist. The “Discovery” menu incorporated local ingredients, such as ginger flower (its gel a rose-flushed base for seared king prawns), delicately spiced baby starfruit with glazed Tasmanian salmon in a perfectly seasoned broth, and sweet kluwek puree accompanying a slow-roasted duck breast with a crunchy orange-hazelnut salad.
Continue down the hill, towards the Wos River ravine and Campuhan Bridges, towards town, and on the right there will be signs for the Antonio Blanco museum, dedicated to preserving the flamboyant works of the “Bali Dali”.
Across the bridge going up on the left hand side, an Australian teacher called Sandy Elliott recently opened Sari Aktif, an agency for organizing all kinds of local activities. If you want to commission a work and don’t where to start, she knows a range of local artists and can offer guidance.
In busy Monkey Forest Rd, Komaneka is an attractive modern gallery with changing exhibitions. Ubud also has many shops selling homewares. For the best shopping, head north on Jalan Raya Andong (the road to the Tegallalang rice terraces) – it’s a virtualhandicrafts highway.
For art with less bustle, there is Alam Puri Art Museum & Resort, a boutique hotel with gardens and innumerable water features that are a work of beauty in themselves. To reach its 10 villas of varying sizes and sumptuousness, you pass its own gallery, the Putrawan Museum of Art, which contains the only collection of tribal art in Indonesia.
Located about 20 minutes south of Ubud (shuttle provided), Alam (meaning view) Puri (meaning kingdom) is set in about three acres of grounds, with a view of another 70 acres of peaceful rice paddies. The villas are named after artists – and feature plenty of art – as the owner is a collector and painter. It also has an intimate spa, next to the small river, open to light breezes, where relaxing but firm Balinese massage is accompanied by the sound of birds and tumbling water.
Back in Ubud again, the Agung Rai Museum of Art, is another venerable institution in attractive grounds which shows traditional and contemporary works. On my first visit to Ubud I recall seeing a cremation (street procession, body exhumed and placed in decorated bull for incineration) in the Monkey Forest in the morning, and paintings of past cremations that were remarkably similar at ARMA that afternoon.
Of course not everyone comprehends the need to create art. But most people understand the need to dispose of garbage, and they might appreciate Oh Waste in Jalan Jembawan (near the post office) where recycle artist Pat makes bracelets and accessories from old tyres and discarded toothbrushes.