The Good Women of Ubud

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“Tread softly, for you tread on my dreams” – W.B.Yeats

This week’s column is dedicated to my late friend Bina and the good women of Ubud who I see every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday at restaurants dancing the evening away alone or in groups, while the men watch from the sidelines. The throb of Jazz, Reggae, Rock and Salsa entrance the women who move to the music like birds in a mating ritual. Sometimes I feel the urge to join them but I am outnumbered ten to one by the heavenly bodies and the captivating fragrance of Chanel.

Today we shall not talk of that four letter word we encounter everyday – Love. Instead we shall put on our dancing shoes and waltz to Englebert Humperdinck’s song, Release Me, with a companion held close to our bosom like two swans in a partnership of a lifetime; although ours will last three and a half minutes, which is the duration of the song. But who cares, it is the beat of the moment that counts.

Growing up in the late 60s early 70s in a city that was the former capital of India, Calcutta, we were intoxicated by Pam Crain and Braz Gonzales who jazzed it up at a restaurant called Trinca’s on Park Street. Those were the days of the Fox Trot, Waltz and the Tag dance. Of course the Cha-Cha and Jive did get pride of place. Pond’s talcum powder was thrown on the floor to smoothen the surface so that we could twist to Chubby Checker in our nylon socks and pointed toe shoes and shorts that were so tight that they stuck in our rear.

As the years rolled on, the Doors and The Beatles opened us to a whole new world of bell-bottoms and floral shirts with collars the size of medieval contraptions. It was a time of free love, teenage pregnancy and good music. The Waltz then became the choice of fuddy duddies while we moved on to rock n roll. The girls in their midis, short tops and roman sandals were like Indian rubber men on the dance floor. The contortions could have displaced a few hips but this did not happen for they knew how to move to the music of the times. Then in the midst of the party in walked the crinkle tie-dye cotton skirts, long hair, faded jeans accompanied by the raucous sound of Janis Joplin and the wailing of Bob Dylan’s ‘Times they are a changin’. Peace descended in our hearts to the harmony of Simon and Garfunkle. The sound of silence was the music that stoked the fire in our hearts. We danced with complete abandon oblivious of the morrow that cried out for sanity as our lives flowed like a river in spate.

Many of us had fumbled on the dance floor or had been shy of moving to the beat or holding the hand of a damsel eager to accompany us in a ritual that invariably bordered on erotica. Unfortunately, some of us have carried this feeling through to adulthood.

I have often wondered as to why women dance to the spirit of the beat and are mesmerised by the vocal chords of songsters, Barry White and Joe Cocker. Could it be that they have tuned into the subtle nuances that lie hidden in the subterranean blues and these unravel their heartstrings?

Not too long ago I met Elizabeth, one of the good women of Ubud, who wanted to learn the salsa. A teacher would arrive at her hotel to guide her through the motions. As time passed she transformed herself into a creature of delight swaying to the tempo of a live band. She dressed in black and danced the night away. The tempo ignited her emotions and quelled the feeling of loneliness she carried within her. I sensed that the sound of feet tapping to the music could have been a balm that soothed her aching heart. But one will never know for she had tuned into a higher frequency of passion just like Bina who I had left behind in Calcutta.

The first time I met Bina was when I bumped into her on the dance floor while straining every sinew to Rod Stewart’s grating ‘ Tonight am yours’. Her long black hair and lithe body clothed in a white cotton dress soon became entwined with me, as the song changed to Leo Sayer’s ‘When I need love’. In those days we called it the Slow Dance: A perfect opportunity to agitate the pheromones. From that night on we were regulars at Jam Sessions where a live band played pop songs and tea and cucumber sandwiches were served. Over a period of six years we graduated from these evenings to nights at the disco dressed like members of the band – Abba, and onto rock concerts on Calangute beach in Goa on full moon nights. Sadly from the time I stopped dancing with her, for I had grown weary of music, she drifted away. One day I awoke to a good-bye letter placed under my door. I never saw her again. She passed away last year on Valentine’s Day after a prolonged illness.

The only regret that I have is not having danced with her one last time.

‘Come on baby light my fire’ is a haunting melody that plays through my head whenever I encounter the good women of Ubud for they remind me of follies past. In them is reflected a joie de vivre, a time of roses and poses that keeps them forever young, a touch of Gatsby in the hills. They, like Bina, possess a lust for living and a natural enchanting rhythm that entices onlookers like sirens in a Greek tragedy.

Ubud embraces a string of restaurants and a host of entertainment that never ceases to drive away the melancholia that sometimes grips the good women of Ubud who have arrived from far off lands and nested in the hills. A night out with Chika and her saxophone, moving to Michael Franti’s ‘Yes I will’ at Flava Lounge or swinging to salsa with the genteel crowd at Indus is reminiscent of evenings at Park Street’s hip restaurants and bars of the 70s; Trinca’s, Blue Fox, Mocambo’s, Moulin Rouge, the Barrel, Sky Room with live music and good food. Here in Ubud shades of those swinging years flash before my eyes like errant motorcyclists whizzing past unmindful of the near death experience they go through everyday.

From Calcutta to Ubud, the song remains the same.

“You can’t start a fire
You can’t start a fire without a spark
This gun’s for hire
Even if it were jus for dancing in the dark”
-Bruce Springsteen, Dancing in the Dark

To the good women of Ubud, I have one request…

Save the last dance for me.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om

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Dreamscapes of home in Paradise

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Everyday is an endless dream of cigarettes and magazines
And each town looks the same to me,
The movies and the factories
And every stranger’s face I see reminds that I long to be
Homeward bound

I wish I was, homeward bound
Home, where my thoughts escaping
Home, where my music’s playing
Home, where my love lies waiting silently for me

Tonight I’ll sing my songs again
I’ll play the game and pretend
But all my words come back to me in shades of mediocrity
Like emptiness in harmony
I need someone to comfort me, homeward bound,
I wish I was, homeward bound

– Simon and Garfunkel, Homeward Bound

The further we travel away from home the closer we come to it. The dreams of home stoke the fires that burn in our hearts as we traverse the world.

Not a day goes by without paradise throwing up reflections of the home we left behind and with it only sweet memories of innocence, joy and togetherness.

Paradise is unrelenting in its pursuit of remembrances. We cannot escape the daily silhouettes of life that feed these memories with the help of paradoxes that shake us out of our stupor.

Sometime back a (late) friend spoke tearfully of how her brother was selling his house in New Zealand because of divorce proceedings. She spoke endearingly of the house as her home and the place where she got married. But what brought this sudden urge to remember? Was it the house in which she was living in Bali or her marriage that was slowly losing its passion? The sudden surge of angst can be placed firmly at the threshold of paradise – the prime meridian between the past and the present.

We are in a way imprisoned in paradise – doomed to relive our memories of home replete with all the beauty without the cruelty of reality. Amnesia has taken control of our senses and we enthusiastically accept this situation for none of us want to be reminded of the grief that we endured in the past; we only choose to select the bits and pieces of happiness out of convenience. It is an inbuilt survival mechanism generously given to all who arrive seeking to live another life in Bali.

Helen, an acquaintance of sorts who has temporarily set up home here, speaks incessantly of her children, boyfriend she left behind and the saga of a long lost marriage and subsequent divorce. It would appear that though she is living in paradise her thoughts are constantly of home.

The perception of home that we carry around with us is in essence a subterfuge that annuls all sense of proportion in relation to reality. We conjure up metaphors to convince ourselves of the viability of memories and its sidekick – a feeling of belonging to a world that exists within the parameters of our sub-conscious being.

Could it be that the dreamscape of home is actually the anchor that stabilises life wherever one resides?

The rapturous images of religious ceremonies, offerings, food and landscape ignite the fuse that we carry within us.

For instance, nothing is more reassuring than a comforting meal that reminds one of home, family, love and belonging in times of despair and loneliness. The lingering image of a bowl of steaming rice reminds me of my childhood in India amid the rice fields of Bengal and also the day when my infant son ate his first spoonful of curd and rice. But at the same time if I so desire I can recall the unhappiness and isolation that I felt. Fortunately this never happens for recollections of home are shrouded in a veil of make believe imagery that resembles Alice in Wonderland without the mad hatter in tow.

So what could be the life force that sustains and provokes us into remembering home in a manner that mocks the truth? And is our perception of home a figment of our magnified imagination – the amplified sights and sounds of paradise that intoxicate our senses and lures us into hallucinating of a home that in actuality never did exist.

One can only presume that dreamscapes in Bali are the food that nourishes the memories of our past that surfaces every so often.

On how many occasions have we arisen from deep slumber feeling elated or sad because the morning sun on our faces in paradise abruptly interrupted dreams of home?

On how many occasions have we awoken to the lingering taste of our favourite home cooked food on our lips?

Or, on how many occasions have we sat up in bed after a deep sleep and rested our naked feet on the floor only to be reminded with a sinking feeling of home; a place where as children we frolicked oblivious to the vagaries of daily life.

For some, awakening in paradise is like a bitter pill and for others a dreamscape that one retires to for comfort; the sugar coated pill of reality.

Though the illusions differ from person to person the esoteric dimension ensnares everyone who leaves home.

If home is where the heart is then our hearts are not in paradise. We are merely living out our lives in anticipation of returning home wherever that is. Invariably death plays the spoilsport for many who wait with deep longing for the cosiness of home and aromas of a mother’s cooking wafting from the kitchen.

The irony is that we are in great haste to leave home, to wander the world and taste the meaning of life. Yet as years flow by we nurture the memories of home and sadly imagine that we can return to a place and time that does not exist anymore in the realms of the universe.

For many of us in Bali, home will remain a cruel joke played on us by a Power that keeps urging us to live our illusions yet face the harsh paradoxes that confront and confound us everyday. There are some who have not played the game and returned home only to find that it had vanished into the past – in a dreamscape of home in paradise.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om

Requiem for a People that People forget

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This is dedicated to the people who work tirelessly as stewards, cooks, drivers, clerks, security guards, pembantus etc., to make Bali an island paradise. It is also an appeal to all non-Indonesians who have made their home in Bali: Let us return to the Balinese the love and sustenance that we have received from them.

Several months ago The Bali Times carried a news report on the number of suicides on the island. Between January and October 2007 114 people committed suicide: 92 of hanging, 17 of poisoning, three by cutting their veins, one from jumping from a height; and one burning.

Reasons cited by family members for the suicides were disease, frustration and poverty; 60 percent were men, 40 percent women.

Statistics have a comforting way of showcasing the truth without emotion or drama. We are mere numbers on the graph that rises and falls like the daily exchange rate of currency. It’s this cold response that denotes our level of morality that has become threadbare with over indulgence.

We should ask ourselves the question – Is suicide the final egress for a misspent life or is it an ‘escape’ from penury and degradation?

People who have read these statistics speak eloquently about it being the unavoidable consequence of lopsided social and economic development. Social reformers and workers masticate on solutions like the adjustment of society to include the fringe folk and their ilk. But this is talk and it is cheap just like the lives of these wretched people whose souls lie buried deep in the morass of collective consciousness.

We shall not be drawn into the blame game or pontificate about the evil that befalls those that end their lives – the perceived notion of an afterlife of eternal damnation – for we can console ourselves with the fact that they are in the company of Sylvia Plath, Papa Hemingway and Yukio Mishima, literary giants who resorted to the final act of self-extinction albeit in a dramatic manner – Hemingway turned a gun on himself and Mishima performed the centuries old ritual of hara-kiri – self disembowelment with a ceremonial knife.

The following lines taken from one of Sylvia Plath’s poems reflects the intensity of life that finally led to her death by suicide:

“My candle burns at both ends, it will not last the night
But ah my friends and oh my foes it gives a lovely light”

The gentle people on this isle have taken their lives not out of honour or belief in a philosophy but because of disease, frustration and more importantly hunger. Is this an indictment of our insensitivity and sheer callousness to our less fortunate brethren or the ever widening gap between have and have-nots fuelled by a cancerous form of consumerism? A stroll through the labyrinth of malls and food courts may give us the answer to this puzzling question.

An acquaintance termed this as the ‘me factor’ – the urge for self-gratification that exceeded the established boundaries of awareness and reason. Maybe this is the brave new world disorder where everyone is for herself or himself and winner takes all.

We can carry on ad nauseam about the factors contributing to suicide on the isle or pass the buck ad infinitum but what will it achieve, heartburn and hot air?

I spoke to a friend who told me that the Indonesian word for suicide was bunuh diri. She said that it was devastating for a person’s karma as the decision of life and death lay solely in the hands of the Almighty. If this is correct then the people who have ended their lives must have known this yet went ahead with their decision. One can only speculate on the trauma and utter desperation they felt when they cut their wrists, jumped onto the rocks below or hung themselves. It was the final act in a play that mocked the very essence of life.

Nothing escapes reality except the truth, it lurks somewhere in our consciousness prodding us to accept what is dished out on a daily basis. Is it good to starve to death or die of a horrible disease (naturally) because it is our kismet? Are realism and fatalism impostors that take us on a guilt trip? And will these souls be absolved of their iniquities?

On earth the stigma of suicide will rest forever on the family like the mark of Cain. And in heaven the angels may sing praise or send them back to earth to live another life as an act of redemption.

In Christianity people who committed suicide were buried in unmarked graves. Whether this practice is still followed one does not know. And in India, attempted suicide is rewarded with a jail term.

It is apparent that society and the God/s are hell bent on punishing these miserable people for the transgression of ending their life. There is no difference between them and criminals – the logic is that if you hurt yourself or hurt someone else retribution is the same from man and the Maker.

In wars there have been many instances where people have killed themselves and their families for fear of being captured by the enemy. So how do we judge these people? Are there different laws of salvation for these people? Or, is there a blanket condemnation of suicide?

Bali is not the only place where suicides occur. For example, in India hundreds of cotton farmers have committed suicide due to abject poverty brought on by failed crops and the humiliation that followed in the aftermath – prostituting their wives and other unmentionable acts. So how will society and the big eye in the sky judge and convict them – with many rounds of bad karma?

We must pay heed to the welfare of people on this isle and share our resources and love with them. Let us endeavour to make it a comfortable and safe place for all who eke out a living in Bali for suicides are the paradoxes that are a slap in the face of reality while paradise is the comfort food that we can partake of in times of despondency. The comfort food being the rich cultural landscape embellished with a religious fervour and presented by a beautiful people – the Balinese.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om

Nyoman Suradnya – The enigmatic master of the Arts

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I Nyoman Suradnya speaks to Mark Ulyseas in an exclusive interview.

“The red is me…it’s Suradnya. My colour I try to get the Bali smile – not Java smile, not Sumatra smile…Bali smile”. – I Nyoman Suradnya speaking to The Australian, Tuesday October 07, 1975, at his first exhibition of his paintings held at Aladdin Gallery, Sydney.

The first time I met Nyoman at a friend’s place I took an instant liking to him because he knew the words of the song Release Me. We both sang it loud and out of tune till the dogs started barking. Later over a cuppa and fried banana fritters we discussed the state of art in Ubud. His frank and often strikingly honest remarks were a breath of fresh air after encountering many self proclaimed artists who were too eager to please any listener. The next day we met at his studio to carry on the dialogue.

I began by asking him the usual question, “Why Ubud?”.

He replied, “Because Ubud is where every breath is a prayer. Look around you at every nook and corner someone is making an offering to the Gods. The continuous religious ceremonies inspire this living culture. Ubud breathes life into the arts and many come here to live off this breath of living culture”.

Nyoman is 60 years old. A child of a rice farmer, he worked in the fields helping his family. From a very young age he was intoxicated by the arts and crafts and would experiment with whatever material he had to create images on paper, in wood and stone. Inspiration came from the Wayan Kulit (Shadow Puppet) and then from his brother. He painted in black and white as in those days colour was not available. On finishing high school he joined the Art School started by Tjokorda Gede Agung Sukawati of Puri, Ubud. In fact Nyoman was the first student! Here he learnt painting, woodcarving, stone carving, carving for the Bull cremation towers from the masters of each craft. Like in India the concept of Guru-Sheeksha (Master-Student) was prevalent.

After one year of the three-year course in the art school, Nyoman chose art on traditional lines learning proportion, perspective with regard to wood carving “Ubud Style”. He learnt the techniques from Balinese and non-Balinese masters. The market place was one of his haunts. Nyoman would visit the market to sketch the basic outline of his subjects. Then he would return to the studio and breathe life into the sketch with paint and brush strokes.

Nyoman turned to the technique of Batik and went to Jogyakarta in 1973 to learn the art from the Javanese master craftsmen. On his return to Ubud he began by inventing batik colour pigments with some powder so that it could be blended like acrylics. The special batik paint he created was used in his paintings to recreate the batik effect on his canvases. This was a groundbreaking technique that enabled Nyoman to take the craft of batik, which was confined to fabric onto another medium.

The resultant effect was a creative leap whereby batik was not limited to fabric but became a medium that Nyoman could use to manifest his perceptions of the real world around him onto canvas. Colour exploded on the palette and splattered into shapes, forms and perspectives that immediately made Nyoman’s work recognisable in the numerous countries where he held his exhibitions. He became a pioneer in this field.

Nyoman’s considers the word “artist” as one coined for or by tourists. The apt phrase according to him is Unagi, which means wood carver, builder, painter etc. All the arts and crafts were primarily for the Pura (House of God) and the Puri (House of the Royal Family). Later with the arrival of Walter Spies who was influenced by Henri Rousseau, the mingling of the two art forms resulted in metamorphosis of Balinese art forms. The local artist began to paint “daily life” and incorporated perspectives, subtleties of shading etc. The foreign artists and Balinese craftspersons took to each other like “bees to flowers”.

Asked about his opinion on the numerous art galleries sprouting up all over Ubud he replied, “The mushrooming art galleries across Ubud are like McDonald’s fast food outlets. They’ve lost the plot. The kitsch is feeding the tourists because that is what the tourists want to see and buy. I do hope this does not continue otherwise good taste and discerning customers will fade away along with various art forms”.

And when I enquired as to whether he had reached the zenith in his art form, he looked at me for a moment and then laughed loudly and said, “ I believe there is a promise land, a place I can reach nirvana with my artwork. However, I am still travelling and learning and travelling. When will it end I do not know. But I firmly believe it will be in this lifetime”.

I Nyoman Suradnya has been known to speak his mind and to encourage his fellow villagers to beautify Ubud. In fact due to his endeavours Ubud won the Most Beautiful Village in Indonesia in 1982, 1984 and 1986.

Some of his numerous past exhibitions were: 1977 Galerie de Geneva, Milan, Italy; 1982 Arts & Crafts Centre, Melbourne, Australia; 1985 ISLA Centre of the Arts, Guam University, USA; 1990 Gallery Balance, Osaka, Japan; 2004 Café Fleischli, Zurich, Switzerland.

Today one can learn the craft of batik and batik painting from the master himself at Nirvana Pension & Gallery situated on Jalan Gautama , off Jalan Raya, Ubud.

Gamelan Master – Tjokorda Raka Swastika

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The Gamelan Master speaks exclusively to Mark Ulyseas

Introducing Tjokorda Raka Swastika of the Ubud Royal family, a Gamelan Master, who I met in the palace garden to talk about his art. This is what he had to say to the readers of The Bali Times.

It is a short introduction to Gamelan. The music has intrinsic religious significance and is an integral part of Balinese culture. This short passage from our conversation does not do justice to the art. But for the sake of brevity we have confined ourselves to presenting it only as an introductory piece so that anyone not conversant with this religious art will begin to understand the complexities of Gamelan music.

This is what the master had to say to the readers of The Bali Times.

I learnt Gamelan from a local guru Dewa Nyoman Sura from Pengosekan Village about 5 km from Ubud. In those days, there were no children Gamelan. I hung around the musicians and watched them play.

In the 60s there were only two Gamelan groups in Ubud – one belonged to the Ubud Kaja (North) and the other Ubud Kelod (South).

Gamelan is the traditional music of Indonesia (specifically Bali and Java). Gamelan means the traditional ensemble of instruments. For example, in Bali Kendang (drum), Reong (kettle gong), Gong Kempur (medium gong) and Kemong (kettle gong).

The materials used in the Gamelan are metal and wood. Prior to the use of metal we had bamboo Gamelan as seen in the Gambang Ensemble.

The metal used for instruments is made of the Panca Datu – 5 elements of tin, copper, iron, silver and gold.

Gamelan is played on religious occasions as it is one part of the rituals viz.:
Dewa Yadnya (God ceremony), Resi Yadnya (Prayer ceremony), Manusa Yadnya (Human being ceremony), Pitra Yadnya (Soul ceremony) and Buta Yadnya (Devil ceremony).

Gamelan in Bali is also performed in temples when sacred dances take place. Of course it is played for the performance arts elsewhere.

The Gamelan vocal is also part of the Panca Gita.

I have been performing the Gamelan for 30 years and have taught students from Australia, Japan, Holland, Denmark and England.

In 1986 I visited Tokyo along with the Gamelan group from Ubud. It was for an International Music and Dance Festival. Since then many Japanese have visited Ubud to study the art. Many have been my students. Three years later in 1989 I performed in Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Holland and Finland. In 2000 I taught Gamelan for three months in Sydney. Today there are two Gamelan groups in Sydney, one started by the local Balinese community and another by an Australian. I performed at the Summer Festival in Fukuoka, Japan, in 2003.

Presently, I am concentrating on teaching and the future progress of children’s Gamelan. The 1999 Bali Arts Festival held in Denpasar saw my students represent the Gianyar Regent team, which won an award.

In 2005 the children group, Cenik Wayah, who were trained by me represented the Gianyar Regency at the Bali Arts Festival and won an award.

Now I am also training women in the art of the Gamelan.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om

Wenara Wana – The enchanting forest

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Mark Ulyseas in conversation with I Made Gunarta, a resident of Jalan Hanoman, Ubud, who is the Marketing In Charge for the Sacred Monkey Forest since 2003.

The sacred monkey forest is an integral part of Ubudian life and history. To understand the essence of its existence we spoke to I Made Gunarta about the well-known facts and the offbeat anecdotes that make it an enchanting forest. It became a tourist attraction during the days of Walter Spies in the 1930s at a time when oddly enough there were no monkeys! About four-dozen monkeys were introduced in the 1970s. Now the simian population has grown to 300 and still counting.

The soul of the enchanting forest is the Old Pura Dalam Agung Pandantegal Village Shiva temple. The monkey is believed to be the spiritual guardian of this temple.

The Shiva lingam in the temple’s precincts is believed to be very old and it is thought that Hindus who arrived from Java many centuries ago made this lingam, as the materials used matches the lingam at the Campuhan temple which was the first base camp of these followers.

Adjacent to the Shiva temple are two other temples – one is the Prajapati Temple dedicated to Durga on north east side of the graveyard, the other one is the Beji Temple dedicated to Ganga. The holy spring water at this temple is used for spiritual cleansing by devotees prior to praying at the other temples.

Many a mortal has felt the presence of a spiritual force that apparently resides in the enchanting forest. There are stories brought down from family to family about the misadventures of those who had inadvertently taken leaves and wood from the forest without its prior approval. This is a bit weird but consider this story of Made’s grandfather I Nyoman Linting who was part of the Mancagera – a group of people chosen to service the temple. As a young man eager to do his duty for the temple he proceeded to cut a tree in the forest. The wood of the tree was required for the making of Gamelan. What happened next defied logic as the tree when cut fell in the wrong direction at the very last minute trapping Nyoman underneath. His still body was carried home covered with a banana leaf as the villagers assumed he would die of his wounds. However, he survived the accident but was partially paralysed on his left side.

Made recalls the story of the merchant who on the way through the enchanting forest to the local market picked up some leaves near the graveyard. Suddenly without any reason she began placing her goods on the graves as if laying out her produce at the market place. She assumed she had reached the market. A passer-by noticed her odd behaviour. The merchant was immediately taken to the priest at the temple who told her that her actions were sacrilege, as she had not asked the spirits of the forest for their permission to take the leaves. And that was why the spiritual force that resides in the trees possessed her.

The trees of the enchanting forest are considered by the Balinese to be sacred. No one is allowed to either collect leaves, bark, trim or cut trees without seeking the temple’s permission by praying, making offerings and consulting the holy priest. The wood from these trees (especially the Pule) is used in the making of Gamelan and masks for Barong and Rangda.

People who suffer from some illnesses seek the healing powers of the forest. They visit the temple with offerings and after paying obeisance to the gods and seeking the priest’s permission they venture into the sacred forest to gather the leaves, bark and roots to be used as herbal remedies. Entry into the temple by women who are having their periods or anyone who has a wound is denied, as blood spilt in a temple is food for the ghosts.

The total area of the sacred forest was 10 hectares. About four years ago 3 more hectares of land were bought. These 3 hectares are presently being used by school children who are taught yoga every Sunday. However, saplings will soon be planted on this land to extend the forest. In addition to this about 1 more hectare will be purchased. Thus expanding the forest to 14 hectares.

A special committee manages the sacred monkey forest. It oversees preservation of the forest, health of the monkeys, maintenance and promotion as a tourist attraction.

On the 23rd of December this year the committee is launching a tree adoption program whereby people who want to participate need only to pay Rp. 200,000/- per tree for adoption. A sapling would be planted in their name and a certificate of ownership would be given to the donor.

Another program that is in its infancy is the purchase of organic household waste for the purpose of composting. Presently, about Rp 25 Juta is being spent on the purchase of compost for the forest. The option being considered is utilising this money for the purchase of household organic garbage that can be dumped in compost heaps in the forest. The residents in the surrounding areas would benefit financially from this program in addition to understanding the concept of preservation of the forest through the use of biodegrade able materials.

The Wenara Wana is truly an enchanting forest that holds within its embrace sacred temples and spirits of the trees with the simian guardians holding forth. Those who venture into it must understand that there is a power far greater than man and paying obeisance is the only path to living in harmony with the gods.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om