Last night we were captivated by the most amazing experience. We watched the Laka Leke Joged Dance Group. This wonderful troupe is made up completely of children with the eldest being only fourteen and the youngest six years old. Unlike other dance performances that are performed during temple festivals Joged is not a sacred dance. It is a traditional Balinese dance performed on a more social basis for weddings, birthdays and anniversaries.
This form of dance is particularly popular with the Balinese youth. The group performed some short but intricate dances such as the rabbit dance and the butterfly dance. We were delighted by their precise and beautiful facial expressions and hand movements.
One of the rabbits was the daughter of our friend Wayan. The rabbits were just so cute and we adored their special dance.
You can watch this wonderful performance on a Thursday night at the Laka Leke Restaurant (about 10 minutes out of Ubud). The show runs for 45 minutes from 8pm till 8.45 pm. We arrived early and had a very tasty Indonesian dinner in the stunning garden. If you are visiting Ubud there are lots of dance shows to watch but Joged dance is such a different experience which I highly recommend.
Bali is dotted with amazing carved stone statues. Everywhere you turn are little and large moss covered beauties. One type of statue that fascinates me is the demon statues or Butas, Kalas, and Butakalas as they are known as in Bali.
Although I have referred to the statues here as demons they aren’t necessarily evil. They are more symbolic of the dual nature of ourselves and the spirits they represent. They remind us that we have more than one side to our life and personality. However some of them do have a face that only a mother could love…
With silver anklets, big enough to fit around my waist, jingling on each of her four perfect feet you will hear Lakshmi coming before you see her. As she sways gently down Rue Manakkula Vinayakar Covil everyone is delighted to see her. Lakshmi is, of course, the resident temple elephant at the Manakkula Vinayakar Temple in Pondicherry.
Each afternoon at around 5pm Lakshmi can be found out the front of the temple. For a few rupees you can receive a special blessing from her. You stand in front of her and pass your rupees to her minder. Lakshmi will then bless you by, ever so gently, placing her trunk on your head. It is truly one of the most special experiences in India and I never tire of this magical touch.
Silver anklets jingling, a glint in your eye, a softness in your steps and a giving heart…Lakshmi we love you!
One of the joys of India is to catch a hint of jasmine from a hair garland as you pass someone in the street. These lovely flowers are worn by many Indian ladies on a daily basis. It is a cultural habit which I too have adopted each time I travel in India.
It is a favourite part of my day to get up early and visit the sweet flower sellers. In order to get the freshest flowers you need to be prompt as the best flowers sell out very quickly. Sometimes I will match the flowers with the colours I am wearing or otherwise I choose a bright, clashing hue to give a splash of colour to my day.
The few rupees you will spend will make you feel like a princess for the day and you’ll smell like one too…
Whenever I travel in India I wear the bindi. A bindi is either a sticker or powder dot worn between the eyebrows. Traditionally the bindi is worn here as the space between the eyebrows is the centre of the Ajna chakra ~ a source of concealed wisdom. In the Hindu religion the bindi is seen as a symbol of worshipping one’s intellect. If we worship our intellect we are hopefully able to make all areas of our life pure.
The use of kum kum powder on the forehead as a bindi is a sign of respect to our inner guru.
Bindis are available everywhere in India. The bindis above I purchased on my last trip for 5 rupees per packet ~ gorgeous and a bargain too! It is fun to mix and match your bindi with the colour you are wearing that day. They come in an array of colours, some bejewelled and others extremely ornate.
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We met this sweet little cobbler in Mamallapuram. Although we had no chappals (sandals) to fix he took great pride in polishing my son’s rubber haviana thongs!
As you walk the streets in India everything is out on show and not hidden away. You can watch shoes being cobbled, hair being cut, beards shaved and letters being typed. My son had his white, blonde hair cut out in the open in a small village in the backwaters of Kerala and half the population turned up to watch. It is these moments that make you smile so much in India. Often in western culture we have so many services that are “tucked away” and “private” but I always find the openness of India quite refreshing and liberating.
I also adore the “while you wait” attitude found in India too. Although the “wait” may be a while…what else have you got to do…you ARE on holidays. We always laugh about “Indian time” and how a trip to the bank may take you an hour. But I always try to look on the bright side. Although my transaction at the bank, which took an hour, may have passed through ten different individuals at the bank to process it ~ at least they were all employed. In a country that has no social security being employed is a very important part of life.
So when in India try to exercise patience…and if you don’t have any…well…you’ll learn to cultivate some as you have no choice. Sit back, relax, count to ten and hum Om…