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Authentic Performances in Bali Are Priceless and Easy to Find

Like we said before, there’s always a celebration somewhere in Bali and the Balinese are warm, open people who happily invite you to join them. So when we are accosted in the tourist areas to buy a $40 ticket to a “real Balinese show” we can politely refuse because an authentic celebration is not hard for us to find on this island.

A new hotel was being built next to the one we were staying in. I had walked through the property just to see what they were building and happened to meet the owner. The  next day, they were having a special ceremony to bless the new hotel. (I guess that would be the Hindi version of a Jew putting a mezuzah on the door.) I looked in to see what was going on. The owner saw me and invited me to have a beer and join them.DSC01725

It was nothing short of spectacular. There was a full band. A couple on a platform was lighting incense and ringing a bell at certain times. A group on another platform carried on some dialog with the actors on stage. On stage, were four actors and dancers that performed a very specific long running play. This all took place in front of an altar with many offerings on it, including the requisite roasted pig. Every celebration has a roasted pig.DSC01675

Since I couldn’t understand the Balinese words, I made up my own interpretation of the play: It looked like the people on the second platform were the mortals requesting blessings from the gods. They summon the priest and priestess on the special high platform to ring the bell to show the gods what great offerings have been presented.

DSC01708Then the gods had some dialogue with the mortals, did a little song and dance, and eventually decided the mortals are worthy. Finally, they called on the big Kahuna, who came out from the curtain donning the special gray mask with white eyebrows. After a little discussion, in song of course, about whether the correct paperwork was filled out and stamped, he finally sort of agreed. He inspected the pig, flowers and fruit at the alter to assess whether the bribe, er… offering was big enough. And finally, the moment everyone was waiting for, he pronounced his blessings on the hotel.

Not only did I not have to pay $40 to see this great show, but they also gave me a cold beer!


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