I could use a tank-top or two, my three shirts from the last four months plus of travel quite worn well. In the main market on Raya Ubud Street I peruse the aisles of the three-tiered edifice. The bottom layer is produce, meat, and other raw food items scattered among stands with women making altar offerings, weaving the dried leaves into baskets and lining them with assorted flowers. Incense as well as brightly colored mini cakes are sold everywhere, also for use in ceremony baskets. God clearly has a sweet tooth. The ground floor is mostly souvenirs items…batiks, tapestries, silk printed dresses and Ali Baba pants, stone carvings, paintings, silver jewelry, Hindu deities in all listed forms. Ubud is truly the art and cultural center of Bali. The top floor is a mix of knick-knacks as well as clothing for locals, neatly folded stacks of sarongs, kebayas, jeans. I seek simple shirts without Bintang beer slogans or the like and sense I may have better luck in this department. The choices for tanks are slim, most women preferring to cover their shoulders. I am too hot blooded to conform and will search further. The women in the stalls are beyond helpful, transferring me from one sister to another to show me their goods, shouting at one another seemingly saying something along the lines of “do you have plain tank-tops?” in Balinese. The ladies dress me with smiles, insisting I try on shirts I know will not fit properly or will be too hot for they are constructed out of very cheap and heavy rayon. I want to hug all of them.
I am curious about the location of my passport that I gave to a sister more than a week before and without needing to make a phone call, I receive a text from the visa assisting/yoga administrator saying it is ready to be picked up. I am gifted another month here in Bali, the island of the Gods. She requests to meet at a juice bar called Alchemy west of Ubud, the same location where a group of us have planned to assemble to head collectively to the evening Agnihotra fire ceremony, a purification ritual to heal oneself and mother earth. All is guided from the heavens.
At the juice emporium the tribe begins to assemble…fairy sister, the ashram sister, circus adoring siblings, the angel brother, a few others from the Bali Spirit festival. The angel brother gifts me a raw chocolate truffle and we read passages from his book about Mary Magdalene and the power of love. It is quite the public incestual brother/sister experience.
We share rides past rice fields to a huge house where the fire ceremony is beginning to organize. There are many people lying around the pool, others playing with a live boa, drinking fresh coconuts, partner yoga, assisting with the altar construction.
The amazing house:
The altar is set up on the top floor of the enormous abode overlooking a valley of greenery, made of bright flowers and blessed by Hindu priests dressed in white.
The fire ritual is set outside in the expansive yard, a circle shortly growing of the Ubud community. Faces are becoming increasingly familiar, slim men and women always in stretchy yoga gear. Several priests and the host sit in the center around the fire, one priest explaining each ritual in English as bells sing, mantras chanted, rice and water blessings. The fire burns from a copper pot fueled by cow dung and ghee. We all repeat the mantra “Svaha” as rice is tossed into the flames.
The ritual portion of the evening is complete with a kirtan by Kevin James, an Australian who truly pours his heart into his music. We are invited to enjoy a buffet of fresh salads and fruit, grains, durian wedges, and other vegetarian delights in addition to glasses of juice. In the upstairs temple space with the altar a live band began to play, a high-vibrational team with a powerful didge. Spaceship cruising and shakti shaking! Raw chocolate is passed on plates and poi spinners light toys in the yard while cuddle puddles form on the body size cushions under the open-aired bale. It is a festival of spiritual love.
The entire evening is by donation, an event of complete generosity by the man of the house. He opens his space every Wednesday as well for free kirtan. There were nearly 300 people in attendance throughout the night, mountains of motorbikes lined up outside his compound. Gratitude for his bounty and for boosting community harmony and light.