While the Balinese seem to go about their daily lives in a fairly normal way, in reality it is just a cover. What they really like to do is attend ceremonies and functions where they can dress up!
Bali is a culture where the adherents just love to get put on costumes. From an early age – almost from birth, children are swathed in fabric and headgear – with rich patterns and textures of textiles – some heirlooms, some copies of the real thing – but they are always luscious.
Different ceremonies require different colours and dress but there is nothing to beat dance costumes. The annual parade of the Bali Arts Festival brings out the diversity in force! Amazing never before seen emerge from the shadows to parade down the thoroughfare, each outdoing the next in grandiosity and glamour – not to mention the extraordinary makeup!
Give an excuse, any excuse, and out comes the warpaint and the most bizarre array of costumes imaginable. Whether it is a mythical character from the ancient Hindu epic Maharbaratha or the Ramayana or a phantasmorgorical character from the Balinese pantheon, or in some cases – a quirky tradition that has developed in some hidden corner of the island, never mind!
The fact is they just love to look fabulous.
There is nothing more fun to photograph than a Hanoman character sitting on the back of a motorbike or a couple of other strange characters in a back lot enjoying a bowl of noodles. It is all bizarre and fabulous to the extreme.
At the recent Bali Arts Festival, ones’ craving for the surreal is really satisfied, as strange sights await you at every turn. Most folk love to have their photo taken – after all they have spent lots of time and money getting ready for the event so why not. It is even fun to get their address and send them a copy – always a welcome thought. So when you tire of the sights of western folk running around Kuta or doing asana in Ubud, take a trip to the hills, or come during a festival and see what you can discover!