awash with an everchanging, milling flood of worshippers,
in their ornate temple clothes, decked with flowers and carrying
offerings in every shape, size and shade.
all this turmoil of colour was one alien note - every statue - and
there were literally hundreds - was swathed in a length
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
indeed a super salesman.
was. many weeks before I learnt that the symbolic black and
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.
another mistake 1 made about Besakili.
only on this visit, but on many others, I found her swathed in mist.
The guide books claimed the temple was built on
slopes of Gunung Agung. How come then I never saw it?
to fear that not only had the volcano blown its top in
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?
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.
final misunderstanding regarding temples was the name
the Elephant Day Festival itself. Again, it was long before I
discovered my error.