Sunday, March 1, 2015

Initiation ceremony-- Puja in the Mountains

These first few days in Bali Mountain a Retreat have been powerful. We are nestled up in the mountains, settled among lush green plants with leaves as large and sprawling as elephant ears, flowers bright and fragrent, air fresh and fertile. 

Two days ago, my 17 blessed and beautiful sisters and I, gathered after our first night of settling, to participate in a Puja ceremony, a traditional Balinese blessing to welcome the day. Each adorned in silk sarongs splashed with color and swirling design, we readied ourselves to make the offering given every morning to God as thanks for the day and protection from darkness. I am so deeply touched by the Balinese reverence for life, the emphasis on ceremony and ritual to make visible the gratitude and petitions of the heart.

We sat around in a circle and were led by our beautiful Balinese guide in how to make the offering. 
Flowers are gathered and a special leaf  folded four times to create the container to hold flowers, some form of sweet (we used cookie and small banana) and leaves. Next we lit incense, or Dupa, which is said to be the connection between God, the spirit, and this earthly realm of sense, these 5 sensory bodies we inhabit.
We chanted to welcome the day, led by the village priest and his wife, each bright eyed and toothless! The chants, they described to us, are for peace in the mind and peace in the heart. Each of us received the final blessing from the priest, three splashes of water to the head, holy water, then three small pours as offering into our cupped hands which we drank, to injest and become that blessing, and then received a pressing of white rice for prosperity and protection on the forehead and the heart. 
We later brought our offerings around the grounds and offered them. What a rich welcoming!

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