A Sense of Style: Dressing Up for Ceremonies
The Balinese have an innate sense of style and nowhere is it becoming really apparent than when attending a ceremony. Their love of dressing up and decorating themselves and everything else in sight makes every ceremony absolutely gorgeous.
Makeup is de rigour for dancers, with the boys painted up as much as the girls. While it may give a slightly Disneyish tone to the performance, it is all in good faith and good fun, designed to please the gods.
Decorations come in all shapes and sizes. From the high priests down, decorations abound. The high priests come with their fabulous array of ornaments, and it seems, the higher the priest, the better are his accoutrements. Indian Rudraksha seeds and huge crystals hang from the body while fingers are encased in huge rings with power stones, the bigger, the better. Golden crowns and other accessories above the ears are also used to great advantage which cause them to look absolutely spectacular, while adding a sense of propriety to each occasion.
Offerings are also decorated with flowers and more. Deities are cunningly fashioned out of grains and even vegetables while even huge statues can be fashioned with fresh produce. Cut palm leaves are fashioned cleverly into all kinds of decoration, but it is the people and their own innate sense of style that make the day.
Some hair do’s reach towards the improbable, with numerous hair extensions to take the place of what was once, every woman’s heritage – an abundance of long hair which could be tied and bound into extraordinary shapes. Flowers, gilt, bow and ribbons are all used to great advantage.
In the end, style is personal expression, so what you like, you wear, unless the Banjar dictates a uniform for a gamelan troupe or the women’s group. Men wear their sarongs with the outside layer known as the Saput and here a lot of personal expression comes into play! Brocade, gold cloth, batik, a precious piece of gerinsing, all bordered with shiny woven borders make a gorgeous display of colour and textures as the men stand about in the temple.
Temple days are just the best place for everyone to dress up to the nines. Whether it is to impress the neighbours, or to catch a husband or girlfriend, it is the time when the Balinese look their gorgeous best. When dressed for the gods, they are barely even recognisable as their everyday selves.