/Bali: Hindu island in an Islamic state

Bali: Hindu island in an Islamic state

 Bali is an  amazing place and I dont mean its people or its weather or its clean beaches and streets.  The fact that in the predominantly Islamic state of Indonesia, this little island of tranquility has a population which is 87% Hindu . And it is visible and how!

Ganesha at the entrance of the Tanah Lot temple

In front of every house, shop, hotel, or any business establishment there is a temple  which has a sarong in black and white checks tied around it. Everyday  every member of the house does his pooja before he leaves for work. Made ( pronounced Maadhey) our driver for the four days we were at the Grand Livio  carried his little basket of offerings in the car we were traveling. Yet he is also practical. On one turn the little basket flew off the dashboard and landed at the feet of my brother in law. When we   got off, he collected the stuff and put it in a garbage bin!

No chucking it on the road to clean out the car!

Every traffic island in all the heavy populated areas  of Ubud and Kuta   has these very well sculpted statues of gods and goddesses from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. The one that struck me  as really artistic and  unusual was the one where Ghatotkach (son of Bheema) was shown battling Karna (a stepbrother to the Pandavas, the son of Surya , the Sun god,)

The sculpture is stunning in its shape and size. Statues of Ganesha dot the landscape  while the highest statue on Bali is that of Garuda carrying Vishnu on his back at the Garuda  Vishnu Kenchana  enroute to Pecatu.

We witness the Kecak dance at the live Uluwatu temple where prayers are held regularly. The dance tells the story of Sita apharan(kidnapping) from Dandakaranya, the presence of Hanuman,  the battle with  Ravana, the and  his death.

The show had everyone enthralled—people from other countries  could follow the story as they had been given  printed leaflets with a brief outline of what was being enacted

Made(Madhey) told us he recited the gayatri mantra three times in the day. He is a happy smiling person who laughs and jokes about Hindi movies and loves Preety Zinta and Madhuri Dixit. Of course , he thinks Shah Rukh Khan is ‘very handsome’

He wants to visit   India  with a pretty girl (not his wife!!). He nudges my 80 year old brother-in-law, asking him if he would like to come along!

 At this he has us in splits!

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Shyamola Khanna

The first one in her orthodox Bong family to marry a Punju fighter pilot, Shyamola Khanna has never had a day’s regret, except for the fact that her dear husband of 36 years did not live to see the day her book came out. He would have been proud. From teaching kids in schools across the country, she made a tentative foray into writing lifestyle and soon acquired quite a professional level—she has been published in all the mainline newspapers and magazines. She continues to write for magazines and is now a volunteer teacher at the AOC centre and at the Denver School for the Blind where she helps kids with English.