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courts awash with an everchanging, milling flood of worshippers,

dressed in their ornate temple clothes, decked with flowers and carrying offerings in every shape, size and shade.

Amongst all this turmoil of colour was one alien note - every statue - and there were literally hundreds - was swathed in a length

of simple black and white check cotton. Moreover, many of the teniple attendants wore this same cloth as a sarong. Instinctively I wondered what inspired salesman had thought to flog so many rolls of unwanted cheek gingham in this Asian hideaway. Later, who-ii I visited other temples and saw the identical cloth, it only confirmed my idea that whoever had brought this material to Bali


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was indeed a super salesman.

It was. many weeks before I learnt that the symbolic black and

white cloth used in temples and. holy ceremonies is to remind worshippers of the constant battle between right and wrong - good and bad. And, as neither good or bad can ever prevail in Balinese religion - so the black and white must be of equal shape and size.


Yet another mistake 1 made about Besakili.

Not only on this visit, but on many others, I found her swathed in mist. The guide books claimed the temple was built on

the slopes of Gunung Agung. How come then I never saw it?

1 began to fear that not only had the volcano blown its top in

the last eruption, but also its middle and its bottom as well, so that as of now there was no Gunung and the claim that Mother Temple still sat at the fect of Agung was just a hoax to pacify tourists. And yet, hadn't 1 clearly seen the majestic "eye of Bali", towering above the rice paddies on the way in from the airport?

This mystery was solved when 1 visited Besakih early one morning with Chekoda Agung, when he went to make offerings at his family temple. We arrived before Gunung Agung was properly awake - before he had time to draw his cloak around him - and Besakili did truly worship at his feet.

The final misunderstanding regarding temples was the name

of the Elephant Day Festival itself. Again, it was long before I
discovered my error.