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C ULTURE +


Usaba Dangsil: Bali’s Festival of Gratitude 3


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val of gratitude, was last observed 14 years ago. The multi-day ritual, the area’s largest, was joined by more than 20,000 people from Bungaya and surrounding villages including Jungsri, Asak and Timbrah. For most, the festival is a chance to honor


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and give thanks to the Gods, particularly Surya—Lord of the Sun—who is given offer- ings in appreciation for life’s abundance. For the area’s youth, Usaba Dangsil is a chance to perform austerities and gain community recognition as the upcoming generation. The festival also marks the start of a structural renovation period for the upkeep of this ancient Balinese village. The latest Usaba Dangsil began with the melasti ceremony on August 17, 2016.


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n bungaya village in karangasem, on the western side of Bali, a unique and sacred ceremony takes place once in a decade or two. Usaba Dangsil, the festi-


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Devotees paraded nine miles to and from the seashore to bless and purify the pratima— the sacred articles and equipment used by local temples. This same ceremony begins many of Bali’s traditional festivals. For the youth who are fasting for the day, this walk is the beginning of several days of austerity. Nineteen palanquins carrying temple equip- ment were paraded to the beach by the local youth, followed by a baleganjur gong orches- tra to enliven the celebratory march. One of the Usaba Dangsil’s distinctive


qualities is the creation of wooden struc- tures known as dangsil. Dangsil are used to house devotees’ offerings dedicated to Lord Surya. The artful structures vary in size and form, from small ones ornately carved, to the seven giant dangsil that tower 60 feet into the air and weigh as much as six tons. They symbolize welfare and protection. Each is sponsored by a particular village. The mobile monuments are carried in procession by


34 hinduism today april/may/june, 2017 ô ô


island’s oldest celebrations, one which gives thanks and honors the youth By Putu Eka Prayastiti Kefani, Bali


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thousands of enthusiastic devotees, and are usually made from durian trees, the straight- est and tallest that can be found. Two dangsil pemaksan 20 feet tall and 40 dangsil taksu three feet tall follow the seven giant ones. The materials to build and decorate each are ceremoniously obtained by the head of Bungaya Village from the crops and mate- rials offered by surrounding farms. The vil- lage architect, undagi, designs each dangsil. After the main structure of each is built, it is festooned with garlands and decorated by the thousands of people from various village organizations. On August 26, three days before the main


ceremony, the pemahbah ceremony was held in which the Bagus Selonding Deity is paraded out from His shrine in Puseh Tem- ple. With a musical ensemble in tow, He is placed on the shoulders of the head priest and carried a short distance along a white carpet to nearby Bale Agung Temple.


all photos: putu eka prayastiti kefani


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