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(10/20/2002) Smug and depraved, the evil people behind the bomb blast in Legian on October 12th must have harbored the hope that in the wake of the blast the people of Bali would run amuck, striking out blindly against minority groups on the island precipitating an endless cycle of mindless retaliation. Using their blueprint tested and tried in Ambon, Sulawesi, and Kalimantan - they no doubt believed that the explosion on Bali's main street would serve to ignite a full fledge state of war on the island.
They Could Not Have Been More Wrong!
In an ironic miscalculation, the bigots behind the blast who lit the fuse that killed and injured hundreds of innocents, also managed to bring out the very best in an island and its people.
What Can I Do to Help?
In the hours and days immediately following the incident, the words that seemed to be on everyone’s lips were: "what can I do to help?"
Private cars and vehicles were organized to deliver the dead and injured to local clinics and hospitals. People with any sort of medical training together with doctors and nurses on vacation in Bali showed up at the General Hospital pleading to be given a role to play. In response to appeals for blood donations, lines formed at the hospital's blood bank where people contested for the privilege to be allowed to donate their blood. Storage containers and ice were donated to help preserve the bodies of the dead. The local hotel association gathered sheets, towels, and bedding much needed by the hospital. Local housekeeping staff from hotels came to donate their services to help keep the hospital clean. Local youth set up a missing persons' bureau. Restaurants sent food and drink to volunteers and families at the busy hospital. The hospital's cashier office shut its door as the hospital refused payment for the services provided to the victims of the outrage. This was an island united. This was Bali at its best.
A Spiritual Island
The Balinese cosmos, comprised of Sekala and Niskala - the physical and spiritual planes, were left in total disarray and confusion by the outrage. It was as though God himself was angry that His guiding precept of Tri Hita Kirana - balance and harmony between Man and Man, Man and God, and Man and Nature – had, through the perpetration of this heinous deed, been so completely ignored. The Balinese universe was completely out of synch.
In times, such as these, the Balinese turn to God, asking forgiveness that any fellow member of our species could arrogate to himself the right to create such violent upheaval. Continuous prayers and meditations have been offered, both at the scene of the tragedy and at each of all the major temples of the island. Respectful members of the Christian, Islamic, and other faiths celebrated by the people of Bali were warmly welcomed at these ceremonies, united in the knowledge that we were all equally victims of the atrocity.
On Friday evening the sacred Byakon, Durmanggala and Prayascita rituals were performed at the bomb crater in Legian in an effort to purify the community and restore some sense of balance to the daily spiritual life of the island.
Nearly 20 high priests, or pemangku, gathered at the scene from the 3 main temples of Bali to officiate at the rites, bringing with them holy waters from six sacred sources on the island. Through sacred incantations in ancient Sanskrit, meditations and prayers floated on the fragrance of burning incense, and sacred holy waters drawn from Bali's underworld - Sekala and Niskala were rejoined and the slow path to cosmic balance commenced.
Organized prayer services have become daily occurrences in Denpasar's City center, at local places of worship, and on the island's beaches. Candlelight vigils joined by hundreds filled the beach at Kuta on Sunday night.
On November 15th, the entire community together with the representatives of the grieving families, will conduct a massive Tawar Agung ceremony intended to release the souls of the dead to the next stage of their spiritual perfection.
While the men who love to hate and hate to love may have spoken on the evening of October 12th, the people of Bali will have the final say on how that tragic day will be remembered and what will be its final effect on their island.