Warning – lots of photos 🙂 I just love them too much.
It was just simply powerful stuff. First, driving around the small villages and communities around Ubud as people were putting the finishing touches to their giant monsters. Simple everyday psychology – drag your fear out into the open, give it a face and personality, a story, and a clear way to defeat it, and in the end, physically destroy it. I enjoyed doing Halloween with kids for a similar reason, it is about our most primeval emotions, so many highs and lows to go through with the chants, arts and little rituals.
And then of course those little things, the youngsters listening to death metal in the community hall while tying the bamboo rods together with black-and-white strips of cloth, other communities going for traditional gamelan. Motorcycle “gangs” pulling up and commenting. Trucks arriving with more bamboo, organised chaos. Little kids practising how to spin around their smaller giants, in an attempt to throw the spirits off track, send their heads spinning. Boys rehearsing the moves of the dances acting out the struggle of good and evil, one of them wearing a t-shirt with the inscription “I didn’t come from a rib, I came from a vagina“. Elaborate hairdos being prepared, with lots of purple and blue spray cans going around. I play with the small ones, acting out I’m a monster too, claws out, eyes bulging, crazy hair, growling – there is lots of screaming and laughter as I chase them down alleys and around pillars. Nobody trying to be proper and sanctimonious and ancient.
Somehow something feels right, traditional rituals, outdated ancient religious beliefs, unscientific tenets, should be dead in “our modern world”, yet the youngsters and kids seem to be the most involved whichever street I go down, and really make the day their own, wild, crazy, bordering on a trance in the end, sacred and profane, so real, so alive, so powerful, one of the most powerful things I have experienced in my life.
And yet, I almost know, if I had grown up in a community like this, I would probably be an outsider here as well. I always resented being told what to do and what to believe. But at the moment, from where I am standing, all I resent is that we completely destroyed our own worlds, communities, beliefs and culture, and we are out to destroy everyone else’s as well. This is a resilient one here, and I don’t think it will surrender. Long live the devil, and long live the kids who will beat it.
(to be continued….)