Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas to be observed uniquely in Bali

Christmas to be observed uniquely in Bali
by Agung Parameswara and Luh De Suriyani on 2013-12-23

Not the North Pole: Santa Claus teaches a number of orphans to surf at Kuta Beach in a regular charity program that takes place during the Christmas holidays. BD/Agung Parameswara

On the predominantly Hindu island of Bali, Christmas brings joy and  happiness to all residents, as well as tourists spending their  holidays here.

Last weekend, Santa Claus was present on the famous Kuta Beach. In  Western cultures, Santa Claus is generally portrayed as a kind, jolly  figure, with a white beard and red coat with white collar and cuffs,
who arrives from the North Pole with his reindeer. Santa Claus visits to bring gifts to the homes of all the good children on Christmas Eve.

However, the Balinese version of Santa Claus, dressed in the same attire, spent his day teaching children to brave the waves of Kuta  Beach. This was Odysseys Surf School’s unique way of sharing its
festive mood for the holiday season.

RR Mulyono, a representative from the school, said that this was one  of the charity activities prepared for the holiday season.

“We organize Surfing with Santa Claus every year to attract people, especially young children, to learn surfing and to love nature,” Mulyono said.

He said that usually surfers wore board shorts. “Now, we have to wear  a Santa Claus outfit, which makes it hard for us to move in the  water.”

But it was encouraging to see so many children, young people and even  adults were enthusiastic to know more about this water sport.

Meanwhile, officials at the children’s prison in Amlapura and  Kerobokan Penitentiary are also preparing special Christmas celebrations for inmates in the institutions.

Separately, in Tuka village in Badung regency, one of the oldest  Catholic enclaves in Bali, residents and church staff are already busy welcoming the Christmas and New Year masses.

I Gusti Ngurah Darmadi, head of Tritunggal Mahakudus Catholic Church in Tuka, said that all the congregation were preparing decorations for the church and the village.

“We adopt Balinese traditional decorations, such as penjor, long bamboo poles adorned with young coconut leaves and other ornaments, which will be placed at the church’s gate,” he said.

They were also preparing lavish offerings of flowers, fruits and vegetables to decorate the church’s interior.

Located 15 kilometers northwest of Denpasar, Tuka village was one of the first Catholic enclaves on the island. Established 76 years ago in 1937, the village is home to around 565 families.

In addition to Tuka, Bali has another important Catholic village at Palasari, as well as a Protestant village in Blimbingsari, both in Jembrana, west Bali.

Darmadi said that Christmas was the time of sharing and giving. “We have collected money to donate to orphans, the elderly and the needy, regardless their religious background.”

He said that Catholic residents in Tuka lived side-by-side with their Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist neighbors in harmony.

“The tradition of tolerance and respect has been going on for decades. We usually celebrate Christmas and New year with all our neighbors,” he said.

At the same time, Badung Regent AA Gde Agung called on all religious and community leaders
to ensure security in their respective areas.

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