2013 August, September – Headline News
The calendar for the coming two months is coloured by a number of events and festivities. Although the island of Bali is predominantly a Hindu enclave with a rich cultural heritage, all other faiths and personal beliefs are respected. The transient nature of the hospitality industry means that people from all avenues of life visit the island making it a veritable melting pot for one and all.
Idul Fitri will take place on 8th & 9th August 2013 to break the month-long fast that is observed by the Muslim community. For a period of 30 days members of the Islamic world refrain from eating or drinking between the hours or sunrise to sunset. This is seen as the ultimate act of devotion to God as it allows followers to practice self discipline and be sympathetic towards the needs of those less fortunate. Idul Fitri is also a time of forgiveness for past wrongdoings, whereby successful completion of the fast cancels all negative actions from the previous year.
Muslims gather with family and friends during this holiday to celebrate the end of the fast with a buffet of traditional cuisine. The most popular Indonesian dish for this festive occasion is opor ayam and ketupat, which is a mild chicken stew served with parcels of steamed rice. This specialty dish is invariably prepared in every household and offered to visitors and well-wishers over the two day holiday.
Saraswati on 10th August 2013, which is dedicated to education and higher learning. Students around the island will attend school in traditional costumes to pray together for academic success. Ceremonies will take place involving elaborate offerings of fruit and flowers to appease Dewi Saraswati, the Balinese Hindu Goddess of knowledge.
Another important day is Indonesian Independence Day is an annual celebration on 17th August 2013. This is a day that evokes a great sense of national pride as it commemorates the country securing its freedom following more than three centuries under Dutch colonial rule. Independence Day is a public holiday whereby early morning flag ceremonies are performed at schools and government offices across the archipelago. On the island of Bali, festive activities, competitions and games are organised by community leaders. Young and old gather to participate in sack races, tug-of-war and the all time favourite slippery pole climb to grab an attractive prize at the top.
Then on 24th August 2013 is Tumpek Landep, a special day on the island of Bali that pays homage metal heirlooms such the traditional daggers that were once part of the island’s warrior heritage. Many families still own one or more of these historic weapons and they are believed to possess magical powers. Daggers are brought out and cleaned with scented oil, wrapped in a length of clean cloth and blessed with offerings and a sprinkle of holy water. These days Tumpek Landep also extends to various items made from metal that are considered essential to daily life. Cars, motorbikes, tools and many other objects are blessed by the Hindu community.
Bali’s cultural calendar is filled with special days to honour tangible elements that are deemed useful in daily life. Tumpek Wariga on 28th September 2013 honours local trees, especially the humble coconut palm. Ceremonial blessings take place across the island involving offerings of flowers, incense and holy water. Prayers of gratitude are expressed to God Almighty for providing a bountiful supply of natural resources such as trees.