Balinese culture and the Hindu faith are religiously mindful of the cycle of the moon and its great power over human behavior. New moon days are said to correlate with creation, manifestation, and birth. The full moon completes the cycle, representing death, change, or closure. The full moon symbolizes a time of purging and letting go of the things that we no longer need or that hinder spiritual growth. On our last day at the children’s home, we were invited to attend a full moon ceremony at a very special temple in the hills overlooking the Bali Sea.
Standing in The Sticky Heat
As evening approached, a couple of the girls led my daughter and I to their hut, and my husband and sons were taken to the male dorm. As we stood in the sticky heat of the bamboo structure, with our arms up, we completely surrendered to the girls in charge of preparing us.
They circled us, almost as in a dance, saffron, cobalt, and jade fabrics blurring our vision. They wrapped our sarongs, fastened our belts and covered them in vibrant sashes. They argued over perfume and playfully fought for real estate in front of the only, tiny, dusty makeup mirror swaying from a piece of twine. When we emerged and walked down the hill toward the boys and men, the excitement was palatable.
Piling in for a Wild Ride
Everyone was dressed and pressed and it was time to go! My husband was asked if he would drive the off road orphanage van, as there were a few kids who were too small to pile in the back of the pick-up. We laughed nervously and he took the wheel (right side drive), grabbed the stick shift, and headed through the narrow village streets following the flatbed, with our boys bouncing around and laughing as the breeze carried us to the temple. It was a completely surreal evening and we weren’t even there yet!
Blessings and a Moonlight Walk
During the entire three-hour ceremony, we had no idea what was being said, so we let the rhythm of the prayers wash over us. We watched others receive blessings and when the time came to have the rice pressed to our foreheads, we knew just how to hold our hands and what to do with the holy water. We followed the ceremony leaders into the moonlight, as we walked around the open air temple, throwing dried flowers at the moon and chanting.
The ceremonial temple is the only vegetarian temple in Bali. We ate an ambrosial meal together as a community, by the light of the moon. We sat on the spotless tile floor, legs crossed, as we were now becoming accustomed to, living in Bali.
I looked up from my plate for a moment and couldn’t believe I was a part of the scene before me. My children were sitting with children with whom they can’t verbally communicate, laughing, eating, sharing, and teasing. The draping frangipani scented the air and the moon was so bright it cast a midnight blue over the meru or temple towers. The monkeys and masks representing good and evil spirits, majestically hand carved into the hundreds of gates, came to life in the beaming darkness.
Being Mindful of the New Moon
It was a perfect zenith to our time at the orphanage. It was imminently clear, tomorrow would be a new beginning, like we had never before experienced, because of this time, this ceremony, and this place. The new moon is certain. It is a law of nature. It will arrive tomorrow and that knowledge is comforting. It makes us believe in the fullness of this moment and its ability to spill radiantly into a new day.
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