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Ritual spirit

Every building, commercial or otherwise, seems to house a shrine. On commercial ways they are usually near the entry - sometimes right on the street. All kinds of representations are evident. Animals sometimes (I've seen dogs, lions and monkeys), or wrathful female goddesses. Sometimes little houses on plinths. Or a chair, sheltered by silk umbrellas in various colors (mostly yellow but I've seen red and white as well). Some with fringe.

This is the one at the guesthouse where I am staying for part of my trip. The local spirit resides in a little house draped with a black and white checkered wrap - almost like a skirt around its base. Every morning the inhabiting spirit is honored with the presentation of incense, flowers and fruits by a caretaker. Sometimes there are little piles of rice and honey left on banana leaves or on tiny mats woven out of some sort of grass. These offerings occur everywhere and are a natural part of regular life - an everyday necessity.

The Balinese seem to my eye to have a particularly lively connection with spirit - their active recognition and appreciation of the spirits that inhabit this land - and also their ancestors - seems to bring a kind of immediacy to their beings. They seem to hold mother nature in high esteem and have a particular reverence for both the seen and unseen ways she may be manifest. There is joy and wonder reflecting an intimate and familial relationship with spirit. Respectful and beautiful.

With their houses being so open and intimately engaged with nature, this spiritual component of their lives seems a natural consequence. One that is easily missed in the cities of the west.

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