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The Magic, Spirit and Color of Balinese Festivals

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Another day. Another festival. With more than 20,000 temples on this Indonesian island of nearly 4 million people, every day is a holiday. I came here for the first time 18 years ago and my experience was awe-inspiring. From Tumpek Landep, a grand celebration of various objects, to ritualistic cremation ceremonies and traditional village odalans, no place on earth celebrates collective effervescence more frequently than Bali. I've returned a dozen times and think of it as my second home.
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South East Asia
So, off to one of my favorite places in the world: Bali. On this, my 11th visit, my intent is clear: manifest festivals and experience some magic. We arrive at the beautiful Ibah Villas on the edge of Ubud and Campuhan. Our host is my friend Asri,...
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South East Asia
The spirit world holds great sway in day-to-day Balinese culture. So, some might say that the highlight of one’s life is one’s death. The cremation ceremony is a celebratory village affair, but, most importantly, it represents the cycle of life...
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Bali, Indonesia
Balinese culture has its roots in the Majapahit Kingdoms of Java, which date back to the 8th century, so it stands to reason, Jamu, Java’s traditional healthy and beauty system, has blossomed on Indonesia’s last remaining Hindu island. Just as the...
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South East Asia
As festive as a Balinese cremation ceremony is, there’s a sacred process at its core. There are three main phases to the cremation ceremony. The first is the Purification, which is dedicated to washing the body and decorating it with various...
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South East Asia
A Balinese cremation ceremony includes a grand procession with a gamelan orchestra, a tower holding the remains, and a sarcophagus, usually in the shape of a bull. The bull is opened to insert the remains of the body plus gifts from the family,...
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South East Asia
Bali is a gorgeous place by day with a hundred shades of green in the rice paddy fields and stunning vistas due to the low-rise architecture. Yet, in the daylight, Bali’s real world imperfections – from mangy dogs to plastic bottles polluting...