On Wednesday, October 5, 2005, - Buda Kliwon Dungulan on the Balinese calendar, the people of Bali pauseed in the midst of their grief surrounding recent events to celebrate Galungan - the day in the Hindu ritual cycle to remind that in the end, good shall always triumph over evil.
On that day, businesses closed as devout Balinese returned to their villages to offer prayers and offerings at ancestral temples. Across the island Penjor bamboo altar-poles decorate streets and doorways of every hamlet. Their looming presence proclaiming an ancient victory of Dharma over King Mayadanawa, an evil and godless king who once controlled Bali.
Ten days after Galungan, this year on October 15th, the Balinese undergo another important day of religious observance - Kuningan. While it is imprecise, it is illustrative to think of Galungan as something on the order of an All Saint's Day - the day when ancestral spirits make an annual visit to this earthly plane for a ten day period leading up to the second holy day of Kuningan. In preparation, ancestral temples are cleaned, special offerings are made, and dances presented to humor the hearts and bring contentment to those members of the family, now deceased, back for a brief reunion with family and friends.
In the Balinese view of the cosmos, this is a period in which every attempt must be made to accede to the three basic ordering principles of Balinese life - Tri Hita Kirana - the absolute need for balance to prevail in all matters between Man and Nature; Man and God; and Man and Man. Balinese-Hindu's will traditionally use this period to repudiate those negative elements in their persona - such as deceit, thievery, violence, anger and jealousy.
Galungan and the marking of Kuningan ten days later when ancestral spirits again take their leave of this earth, is a very special period when the people of Bali are on their very best behavior: every village bustles with musical and dance performances; streets are clogged with elegantly dressed families carrying huge mounds of breathtakingly beautiful offerings to nearby temples; and the Balinese feel a very special attachment with their families, friends and the island they love.
Bali Bombing October 1,2005 – A Bittersweet Irony of Timing
Such is the high regard for which the Balinese hold this time of year that death itself, when it occurs in close proximity to these holidays is considered unclean, often mandating a quick burial and the postponement of normally elaborate burial ceremonies until more propitious period on the Balinese calendar.
Knowing the special regard for which the Balinese hold their celebration of Galungan and Kuningan, prompts the question of whether the decision to bomb three Bali dining venues just 4 days before this very important Bali-Hindu religious cycle was purely coincidental or just another cynical component of evil minds determined to defile this precious island?
Whichever planning scenario you choose, it's safe to conclude that the timing of the latest Bali bombing attack will eventually prove but yet another miscalculation by the perpretrators of the evil attack. Coincidental or purposely planned, early indications are that the close proximity of these important holy days has only served to once again frustrate any plans by the terrorists to foment internecine violence among religious and racial groups in Bali. The Balinese are staying true to character and, as demonstrated following the 2002 bombing, refusing to snap at any proffered bait for widespread civil insurrection.
As was the case three years before - numerous prayers, offerings and commemoration ceremonies are planned over the coming days and weeks which – almost without exception – will include representatives of every faith and race as active participants, shoulder to shoudler with their island neighbors.
At the same time it might prove fundamentally incorrect to interpret Bali's spiritually introspective reaction to the latest round of violence as some form of sublime docility. That the evil men behind the attacks – purposely or inadvertently – chose to pollute this hallowed period on the Balinese calendar with blood, death and violence is a fact not lost on the Balinese. Those behind the outrage must and will be brought to justice.
For, as any Balinese will tell you, good must ultimately triumph over evil.
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