Something that will stay with me forever is the sense of calmness I felt when watching the locals in Bali undertaking the daily ritual of putting out offerings.
The slow, intentional actions to prepare the offering, the waft of incense, the beautiful colours of the flowers arranged on trays made of leaves (these small offering are called canang sari).
Added to the daily offerings is the complex schedule of temple offerings and religious ceremonies that occur in each village. Each village normally has 3 temples and they will each have a different schedule for ceremonies.
The wonderful staff at Chili Ubud tried to explain this system to me and in the end joked that tourists should assume there is a ceremony on every day! And it really did appear that way as everywhere we went we saw religious ceremonies!
But this post isn’t about the details of Balinese religious ceremonies. This post is about the time I accidentally interfered with a ceremony in Canggu and was terribly embarrassed!
The beach at Canggu in Bali where I accidentally interfered with a religious ceremony.
So how did I interfere with a Balinese religious ceremony?
We had spent some time watching the surf at Canggu Bali, commenting on how rough the waves were and how equally crazy the surfers were. While watching these waves I noticed a duck being smashed around in the shallows. My brain wasn’t thinking “that’s odd for a duck to be at the ocean”, all I was thinking was “poor duck”!
My son was a bit stressed seeing this animal struggling to get out of the waves and I was too. A surfer walked past and looked at it, but kept going.
So, we wandered over to try and rescue this duck. A larger wave washed the duck up onto the beach so I ran down, scooped it up and then placed it on the beach away from the waters reach.
Then I looked up, into the face of a local dressed in ceremonial attire. Then I saw the temple ceremony. And the dead chickens on the sand, and another poor duck being pummelled by waves.
My brain slowly ticked over 1..2..3 “Oh crap, I just interfered with an offering!”. The local gave me a kind smile and I gave a smile and an apologetic head nod, not sure what to say. Part of me wanted to yell that if you are going to kill an animal do it quickly, don’t let it die a slow death being hit by wave after wave. But the other part wanted to accept a different culture (plus I eat meat so wouldn’t it be hypocritical?) and I was honestly just a bit shocked at the situation!
And then there was a puppy
Hilariously, we later saw a woman chasing her puppy down the beach that had scored one of the dead chickens! What a happy looking dog that was! This dog wasn’t giving up its precious treat for anyone. The woman and her friend had to work pretty hard to retrieve that chicken from the tight grip of his little jaw.
When they finally succeeded, she tried to throw the chicken onto a large rock out in the water that had a small shrine on top.
But the throw wasn’t strong enough, so the chicken just smashed into the side of the rock, fell into the surf with the puppy running for Round 2 and nearly getting taken out by a wave.
Poor chicken and poor dog having its prized treasure taken away!
Whilst this has become one of those travel experiences that we laugh about, I was really embarrassed at the time. I try hard to be a good, respectful tourist and not fall into the Australian bogan tourist category! I just hope the locals understood my actions were not meant to cause any disrespect. Who knows, maybe they had a good laugh about my actions – silly tourist!