The Big Odalan
It started off sunnily enough. A few of us were invited for the last day of a month long house Piodalan Mempedem Perdagingan Festival – a festival that encompassed the whole extended family as well as the entire village. This celebration was a big one – and the last time it happened was a very long time ago.
Almost a hundred years had passed since they held a ceremony like it. The price had risen accordingly so that it now cost around 150 million – quite a lot for a Balinese family to find.
The month had passed in a frenzy of feasting, fasting, fun and entertainment with priests, offerings, blessings, prayer, ritual and a general energizing of the whole house compound and surroundings – enough good energy to keep things going smoothly for another century.
It was the time to make family connections and social intercourse that would insure a harmonious life for the coming generations.
Smaller Odalan happen every Balinese year but this was a ceremony with all the stops pulled out. Dancers and dances, Wayang Kulit and plenty of blessings, amidst oceans of beautiful offerings had transformed the compounds into a Balinese fairyland.
We were there for the last very special day and as it progressed, dark clouds gathered and then the heavens opened. But even bucketfuls of rain were not enough to dampen the spirits or the high energy of the ceremonies.
The dancers moved onto a balcony, and the many guests squeezed together under any shelter they could find. When it came time for the blessings, the energy rise was palpable as the immediate family lined up for more blessings and the transference of the high octane energy.
What a privilege to be there and witness this intimate day.