Travel Journal

Agung's Family Ceremony

(Monday 22 June 2009) by Dopps Family
Must see photo gallery...
Agung’s Family Ceremony (near Ubud), Bali (June 20th)
We saved the best for last spending an entire day attending and participating (to an extent) in a local family ceremony. When last in Ubud we were invited by Agung, our taxi driver, to attend the 3 month ceremony for his 2 year old (takes time and money to plan these ceremonies…;-). So we headed back to Ubud on Friday and arranged to be picked up and taken back to Agung’s house on Saturday. We arrived around 9 am, 4 hours after the family and other neighbors started all the preparations; making sate, offerings, decorations and roasting 2 pigs, a little piggy for the offering and a larger pig for feeding the guests “suckling pig” after the ceremony. As Cianna and Anisa played with the all the girls I spent most my time behind the houses in the back where the men and boys were taking turns drinking arak (cheap palm wine) and turning the bamboo “skewers” holding the pigs over the roasting pit of fire heated by coconut shells. We shared in the communal breakfast of rice, sate and vegetables which were prepared and fed to all the family and neighbors who had come to help in the preparation. Since they use water from a local spring and since the spices were probably hot enough to singe even the nastiest germs, we dug in and hoped for the best for our guts. We really didn’t want to spend the next day traveling sitting in an airplane lavatory more than in our seat! After all the offerings were finished being made and the women (who do most the work) had all the decorations and offerings in place within the family temple and the roasted pigs were cooked to perfection, I joined the group of guys and headed down to the local holy springs to bathe. One of the boys had a cell phone and no shame and probably has several pictures of my white ass on it (hopefully he doesn’t know about U-Tube!) After being “cleansed” and changing into sarongs and head dresses we all climbed into Agung’s van and went to pick up the priest at his home around 2pm. When we got there he was still taking a nap and normally they would be forced to wait until he wakes up, but his wife went to wake him since I was there (Agung told me that they didn’t want the priest to look bad in front of any foreigners). The ceremony was for Agung Radja, Agung’s youngest boy, and, to me, seemed like a combination of a baptizing and birthday party rolled into one. The actual ceremony lasted about 2 hours with many blessings and offerings. Afterwards, the largest roasted pig was then taken back to the common kitchen/eating area and the eldest men efficiently skinned, carved and chopped up that pig as everyone eagerly devoured it. As part of our offering to the family I went with Agung’s brother-in-law on his scooter for a beer run and bought bottles of Bitang for all the men and boys (and myself) since the palm wine was all gone. They prefer the beer over the plam wine but beer is considerably more expensive, a large bottle of palm wine is 2000 rupees (or 20 cents) and a large bottle of Bitang is 17000 rupees (or $1.70). When you only make $4-8 dollars a day that’s expensive beer. We brought our laptop and loaded the 314 pictures and video we took of the ceremony so all the family and friends could watch the slideshow (several times) while we all drank beer and chewed on pig rind. Around 7pm we loaded back up in Agung’s van with some of the other kids and headed back to our bungalow in Ubud. We invited them in so they could see a hotel room and the kids couldn’t understand why so many beds (3 beds for only 4 people!), all the space and the private bath with tub and sink with faucet for the water. At their family compound there is only one separate room with a toilet and faucet for water with a hose attached used for cleaning and bathing shared by the entire family (aunts, uncles, grandparents, children, cousins, etc.). The next day Agung picked us up and drove us to the airport for our journey on to New Zealand. We gave him a CD with all the pictures and hopefully can create a photo album and mail it to his family once we get home.

  • What Fun! by Lee Todd

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