Over Morning Breakfast:

Over morning breakfast:

The hotel is building two new bungalows next door to us and the buildings are erected but the finishing and terracing are all to be done. This is not a typical construction site with jack-hammers or bulldozers. There are about 6-8 men on the site, mostly brick layers at this point. Everything is being done by hand. Each brick trimmed by hand, cement and mortar being mixed by hand, the ground leveled by hand. The really menial work is left to two women, each carrying 3 slabs of white travertine, to be used on the floors and walls of the bungalows, on their heads back and forth for 4 days.

Men Have a Secondary Role in all of This

This morning we see the local women come to start to sanctify the new shrine being built with the bungalows. Every building in Bali appears to have a main shrine and smaller ones on the actual buildings. They are maintained by the women of the village and new offerings of food, flowers and incense are brought 3-4 times a day. There is also a water purification process that is part of this daily cycle. We wonder how these duties are assigned – which women perform these rituals. I learn from hotel neighbours Beverly and Andre that sometimes men are involved too, but it appears to me that the men have a secondary role in all of this. There are perhaps 12 to 15 women who come to make offerings at the shrine. Some have specific duties; some arrive with a specific blessing, place it and leave. Others have more responsible tasks of praying and blessing. More women, both young and old, appear with more offerings for the new buildings. All are laden with huge woven baskets hoisted high, overflowing with smaller, hand-woven reed basket offerings of rice, flowers, sometimes sweets, always incense. The shrine is wrapped in white and gold textured cloth as are the other shrines around Bali. We are not sure of the significance of this. In many cases, the statues in Bali are modestly wrapped with a standard black and white plaid cloth, black symbolizing evil and white good.

Two priests arrive, one older, one younger. They are given a brief tour of the two buildings and the shrine to be blessed and the ceremony begins. We hear the women’s voices, mingled with the wind, beginning to chant. There is a small bell being rung as part of the ceremony. The smell of sweet incense wafts towards our room. The workers continue their hammering, spading and brick laying unabated. The women continue blessings continue for over 3 hours and as the two priests leave, we wish them well.

So mystical and reverential for us but part of everyday life here in Bali.

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