Posts Tagged ‘Hindu’

It’s a Miracle.

October 25, 2014

heart7 The beach

I once lost my glasses when knocked down by a large wave close to the beach on Indonesia’s island of Lombok. Lombok is a large volcano and the beaches bank down steeply into the ocean. Within a few metres of the beach you cannot stand up in the water anymore. I assumed my spectacles would gently roll down to the depth of the sea with the occasional calamari perhaps peering through them, wondering what sort of two eyed glassy creature is beckoning.

Next morning my wife and I went for a walk along this beach and I found my glasses washed up on the sand.
The sea had returned my glasses. It was a miracle and for true believers, performed by Allah.

Let me explain. We had been to Bali before and on one of those trips decided to go to the island next door called Lombok. We thought of going by ferry but they were booked out. A good friend told us that Lombok is what Bali had been. I suppose he was referring to tourism having spoiled a rather peaceful island into a place swamped by loud, beer swilling and hairy armpit scratching bogons. Together with encrusted bikini clad dreadlock knitted girlfriends looking for ‘ a good time’! The murder rate was steadily climbing up, as were muggings and stolen passports. However, despite all that, even today, Bali’s culture of the pre-dominantly Hindu faith is still largely intact. The Island is renowned for its highly developed arts, including traditional and modern dance, sculpture, painting, leather, metalworking, and music. Perhaps art overcomes all?

After arriving at Lombok we noticed a difference. Next day at about 4am I woke up. It was H, who poked me in the ribs; ” what the fuck is this”? she said gently. It happened to be the very loud and amplified call to all Moslems to come and pray. It woke H up. I am profoundly deaf, so, there are benefits. 😉 Anyone who has ever been to an Islamic country would know. We did not. The Mosques and Imams use the spires of minarets to call the devout for prayer. Lombok is mainly Islamic even though next door to Hindu Bali.

Prayer, or Salah, is one of the five essential pillars of Islam. Taking time out to pray, five times a day, helps Muslims remember Allah and their purpose in life – to worship Him. When they turn towards Mecca, they are united with all the Muslims around the world who face the same direction, and when they raise their hands to begin Salah, they put aside the stresses and worries of life to remember their Lord.

I have often thought about the event of finding my glasses on the beach. Against all odds. Was it a miracle? Was the combined praying at all helpful in bringing my glasses back onto the beach, uphill, against a steep incline and against the law of gravity?

Here some wise Islamic saying that seems to unite all, even those from different faiths.

Make the most of your life before your death.”

Make the most of “your health before your sickness.”

Make the most of “your time before you become busy.”

Make Among the most of “your wealth before you become poor.”

Make Among the most of “your youth before you become old.”

 Near Ubud, Bali

Near Ubud, Bali

Bali, Ubud and Plane tribulations.

September 3, 2014

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We came back on Sunday and I am recovering ever since. Am wearing a blue fluffy morning coat with the pockets stuffed with hankies, both paper and cotton. ‘Crook as Rookwood’ they used to say! Rookwood is one of the largest cemeteries in Australia and even had its own railway station whereby the inhabitants of coffins could be unloaded for an uncertain but cool future below ground level. Another apt expression of feeling below par was ‘ I feel I am ‘on the train to Rookwood.’ They are lovely expressions but are at risk of disappearing when so much of the local Lingua franca gets overtaken by United States terminology.

I have a good cold. A direct hit given by a small child on the plane back. She was coughing all night between Bali and Sydney. Poor little girl.

We flew with Jet-Star. Little did I know what stood ahead of us. No food, no water. Can you imagine? Apparently the latest in economy fares. Soon there will be cheap flights whereby we will just stand up hanging from a strap. I booked ‘on-line.’ I picked direct flights between Sydney and Bali and never even thought to order food and water. I have never been flying anywhere whereby there would not appear (soon after take-off) the familiar little carriages, stooped over by flight attendants, with food and small bottles of wine. ‘Would you like a shiraz or a smooth chardonnay Sir or Madam’, was a common question, soon followed by a tray of all sorts of foods wrapped in cellophane that needed a chainsaw to open. Even a toothpick individually wrapped.

We used to be greatly comforted that everything was done to make the flight bearable with at least including some food and liquid. Not anymore now though. If you thought Isis was tough, try and take a cheap flight somewhere! Avoidance of DVT (Deep vein thrombosis) is greatly helped by staying hydrated during the flight. Well, you try and get water on board a Jet Star flight! I finally managed to get water from a water tumbler in the kitchen at the back of the plane. I was feeling very dizzy by then.

Of course Bali is still Bali with hordes of tourists scampering over everything possible, especially the bars and nightclubs. God, how tourism destroys everything, like locusts.

Of course we were tourists as well. But at least tried to escape. No elephant cave, monkey forests or Hindu temples for us. No tours or trips to rice paddies or local Ikat factories, wood carvings or silver smithing. No trekking or sunset watching, surfing or sampling of dodgy cocktails including the arak laced with kerosene.

We were within 100 metres of the main street in Ubud and elevated above street level catching the cool mountain breeze and waving palms with bits of kites suspended in mid flight. It was lovely and re-vitalising just watching the locals and hordes of tourists. I noticed that many tourists like running around maniacally. Why is that? Perhaps they are so wound up that, having spent money on fares and accommodation, they do not want to risk missing out on anything? They run around frantically like chooks without heads. Their mouths twisted in tenseness and set at twenty past eight o’clock. Chill out, dear European. The end is not nigh.

Ubud is the centre of Balinese culture with music and ceremonies the order of the day. Despite the influx of foreign tourists, Bali’s culture seems to have survived and homage to their Gods is practised everywhere with smoking incense and offerings given at any time of the day.

The togetherness of its people, the smiles and laughter and above all, the inborn desire to make beauty from table settings to wood-carved furniture, tables with marble tops, the lighting and ‘cosiness laced with feelings of intimacy. Schoolchildren with arms around each other, laughing and joking. Cheerfulness in bucket loads.

We are now back in Bowral and it feels all so dreadfully serious. Where is our ‘joie de vivre?’ Perhaps, all on the train to Rookwood!

Float your Sins on the Ganges

February 11, 2013

Float your sins on The Ganges.

Those millions queuing up to take a dip in the Ganges must have something that we don’t know about. I know that for many, a wash in the rivers of ‘insight and wisdom’ has for hundreds of years been the annual aim for  devout Hindus. As someone from an alien culture, I wonder what it is that seems to beckon those millions to wade into those waters.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-02-10/tens-of-millions-bathe-at-ganges-festival/4510894

Is it a communal confession? The ritual is to cleanse oneself from sin and it seems rather poetic and certainly in contrast with the western method of confession whereby a solitary figure sits in a dark little room separated by a screen. He or she confesses his wrongdoing to another mortal. It must be a bit of an embarrassment, especially in a small village; to have bared your soul to someone you might meet again at the butcher shop next day.

I like the Hindu way of letting the magic of the river carry your misdemeanors and sins downstream much better. The figures are amazing. Over 110 million Hindus are expected to enter at Sangam which is the point where three rivers join at Allahabad. Over 50 000 police are there to try and give everyone a chance to enter the water over a six day period. An ‘en masse’ show of spiritual cleansing and breaking the cycle of death and re-birth.

A nice sideline is that apart from the cleansing of sins it is also a celebration of the Gods overcoming your demons with the promise of precious nectar that would ensure immortality.

With the solitary Christian confession it is a bit of a lonely trip, isn’t it? No promise of goodies coming your way, just hell and damnation if you fail in your effort to keep hands above the blankets or refuse to do the washing up or lay the table, swear at your sister or throw a rock over the neighbours fence or do the shopping for mum. Perhaps, the goodies our way is the sitting around with angels, boring…! Who wants to be good with that kind of reward?

No, they definitely have the edge over us at Allahabad. There it is, millions of people wishing to assuage their most inner self, seeking spiritual salvation, renewal and revival through a wash in the holy Ganges till next year’s pilgrimage.  The clanging of cymbals, the emerging saffron heads rising above the water with the garlands of marigolds tangled around the ashen painted aesthetic piercing the rising fog.  This seems to be a reward in itself and present in this life as well for all the Hindus…It doesn’t lighten the burden of life but is ‘shows’. This is the loveliness of the annual ritual of the Hindus.

It’s hard not to be seduced by the magic of it all. Although for us cynical westerns, we would probably see it as just as a dirty muddy river and ask ourselves; what about the hygiene of it all? Where are the flush duel buttoned toilets? I want soap and hair conditioner with carotene and triple layered loo paper. Perhaps, that’s why we will forever be looking for salvation without finding it. Lost to the arid desert of consumerism and brick veneers with beloved colour bonded fence, separating us from each other till the privacy of our dismal end by the funeral director or “Ladies in White” and final consumption by the fiery but lonely cremation at Rookwood…

Some say, we have our rituals and then mention ‘The Melbourne Cup’. The whole nation stands still wearing large hats and thousands punting on horses and their pacing hoofs. We have Anzac days with two-up in the pub while wearing rosemary and drinking cleansing schooners. Let’s not forget the footy ‘finals’ and tennis. They are our cleansing rituals as well.

I am not sure. I so wish I could believe that.