It was only after the visit to the coffee plantation that our cycling tour actually began. There was supposed to be a quick stop at Kintamani to see the volcano, but our guide Nyoman learned that there was too much traffic en route, so we skipped that and went straight to the place where we were to start cycling.
Nyoman, by the way, is a traditional name for the third child in the family. The first child is called Wayan, the second child is called Made (Maa-day), the third is called Nyoman and the fourth is called Ketut. This name is independent of the gender of the child. If it is a boy, the name is preceded by ‘I’. If it is a girl, the name becomes ‘Ni Wayan’, ‘Ni Made’, etc.
When you don’t know the naming system, it’s quite amusing to see the name of, for instance, the taxi driver who is coming to pick you up. It says ‘I Made <name>’, and when you read that in English …!
Traditionally, the youngest child is required to stay with the parents and look after them as they grow older. This is, once more, independent of the sex of the child. So, if a family has one child, the child must stay with her/his parents. This means that when s/he gets married, the spouse needs to be ‘invited’ to stay with the family. When there is a second child in the family, s/he must stay, and the oldest child is free to move out – meaning s/he can be invited to stay with her/his spouse. If there is a third child, s/he must stay with the parents.
So, what happens if there are more than four children? The fifth child is named Wayan too, and so on! It is the third name that is the given name, but many choose to be called by the second one.
Once we had started cycling, we stopped first at a marigold field and then at a traditional Balinese home. It was there that we learned about this naming system before we sat down to make our own offerings. The basket that contains the offering is made by using a bamboo stick to stitch a cut bamboo leaf. Then, you lay a square of a banana leaf in the middle like this.
Apparently, making the offering quickly and neatly is one of the skills of a good wife. Nowadays, people use staples instead of stitching it, and I saw why. My leaf kept tearing as I tried to make and decorate my offering!
The family compound is clearly defined. The head of the house stays in the north, in a building that is slightly raised. The family temple, which could be just a rudimentary bamboo structure, is in the north-east.
The reason for this is interesting too. The east is important because the sun rises in the east. The north is important because India, from where Hinduism came to Bali, is in the north. That’s why Hindus in Bali sleep with their heads either to the north or to the east.
In front of the north building is the most important building, where various rituals are conducted – including the filing of teeth! When a child hits puberty, a priest is called to file six teeth, signifying control over the six sins.
The building in which teeth are filed is also the place where someone who dies is laid for three nights. Hindus cremate their dead, but private cremation is expensive, and Nyoman told us that public cremations may not take place for three years! So the body is first buried in the family compound. When it is time for a public cremation, the body is unearthed and cleaned before being cremated. After the ashes have been thrown into the sea, the spirits of the ancestors are invited to come back and live in the family temple. I wrote about the offerings made to ancestors in an earlier post. Of course, this is because their spirits continue to live with the family.
There were so many little things we learned there; it was fascinating!
For instance, we also learned that eating hot rice during the day is a tourist requirement, not something typically Balinese! Rice is made once – in the morning. Meal times are not fixed. When you’re hungry, you go to the kitchen and you eat. It’s as simple as that. But these crazy tourists? They want the rice to be hot even if they eat it in the evening!