Balinese family builds a penjor
The penjor is a tall bamboo pole (7 meters high) whose drooping top is symbolic of the holy mountain (Mt. Agung) and all the wonderful daily things the mountain supplies to the Balinese people. This symbol has been around for a thousand years, in various forms. Each family erects this symbol in front of their house.
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We lived in a village this last Galungan, with a Balinese family, and experienced the day to day activities of constructing the penjor. This is a chore for the male members of the family ( our Balinese family had 6 males ) and took place over three days preceeding Galungan. Galungan is a kind of all Saints day, when gifts were given freely ( new clothes for the children, etc.). It also starts the new year ( Balinese calendar of 210 days in each year ). Last time I was here Galungan was in Sept, but this year it was in July.
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The “village experience” is totally different than living in a hotel. Eating with the family, and seeing the daily activities ( food preparation for the many ceremonies, again by the males ) for this Hindu event was illuminating. Our family compound had 10 Balinese, ages 7 yrs to 70 yrs ! We were so taken by the warmth of the people, that we are building a house/compound next door !. In addition, we are helping 5 children of the family attend good schools. [ The gift of a good education will continue to help the Balinese long after we are gone.]