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Lord, Love a Duck

Bali Update Editors Shares a Balinese Tale of Religious Ritual and the Day He Got Given a Duck by God

(10/14/2013) 

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On Saturday, October 12, 2013, the staff of Bali Discovery organized a traditional  Dewa Yadnya Ceremony at its offices located in the Sanur district of Bali.

In Bali Hinduism an Upacara Dewa Yadnya is an act of thanksgiving to the Almighty Hyang Widhi - in all His various manifestations, intended to seek blessings and divine guidance in all future endeavors.

For the blessing at the Bali Discovery offices, days of careful preparations went into making sure that the ceremony and accompanying offerings would meet with God’s approval. Once a propitious day was selected, bamboo stands were erected to elevate on altars the High priest (pedanda) and the many offerings.
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A part of the parking lot was excavated creating a pit to receive sacrificial offerings of dead ducks and chickens. Elaborate platters of cakes, suckling pig, confectionaries, cigarettes and fruits were prepared. Holy water was transported to the location and mats laid out for the gamelan orchestra.

At the appointed time, the Pedanda arrived wearing an elaborate gold encrusted mitre that would make a senior abbot envious. He began a program of prayers, chants and mantras recited in ancient Sanskrit. The orchestra played, conch shells were blown, bells and chimes rung, and several circuits of the office made by the devoted sprinkling holy water and chanting along the way to exorcise any lingering omens of ill will.

Lord, Love a Duck

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While the main ceremony progressed, I encountered a forlorn looking Balinese duckling, its bobbing head protruding from a small plastic bag placed among a pile of offerings. Quacking loudly, the duck tried to survey the busy surroundings,  unaware that she was just moments away from a beheading and dismemberment, soon to be tossed into an offering pit with the carcasses of equally unfortunate chickens.

Weaned on a childhood diet of Donald and Daisy Duck courtesy of the Disney organization, I have been trained since childhood to view all ducks as adorable creatures capable of human speech. As a result, this forlorn duckling was, to my eyes, a genuine charmer. Moved also by feelings of guilt and pity, I was soon stroking Daisy’s head and providing her with final cooling refreshment from a bottle of Aqua.

A coward at heart, I excused myself from the religious proceedings and entered the office, unable and unprepared to witness poor Daisy’s demise under the knife.

As the ceremony ended, I gingerly walked out of the office to thank the priest and his suppporters for their service.  Casting an eye down into the sacrificial pit, I saw the white feathers, blood and dismembered  parts of several sacrificed chickens. Holding my breath and determined to say farewell to my new-found feathered friend, I lingered, looking for the soft yellow down of Daisy the Duck that I had lovingly stroked just minutes before.

But, try as I might, there was no yellow down to be seen inside the pit.

A female acolyte approached from the middle of the crowd and handed me a quacking and still very much alive Daisy the Duck. Apparently, my minstrations to the duck had not escaped the notice of the High Priest who, via his direct line to God, had decided Daisy could be spared and offered to me.

To cut to the chase, Daisy has now become part of my household in North Sanur, Bali. The gardener, Kadek - a farm boy, is delighted and has immediately familairized Daisy with the swimming pool. The rest of my household, comprised of three dogs named Juju, Pumpkin and Rocky - seem less enthusiastic about Daisy's arrival, plotting, I suspect, their own reception for the duckling if given half a chance. 
 
As every Balinese knows, the Island operates on a never-ending cycle of good and bad Kharma. Bali Discovery’s offerings to Hyang Widhi were intended to secure the Kharma of a safe and prosperous passage through the months and years ahead for our team and the customers we serve. The kind intervention of a Balinese priest was a piece of remarkable Kharma for Daisy who went home with the guy with the water bottle. My own unfolding Kharma of both good and bad sees me integrating a household of three dogs, a rescued duck and a Balinese gardener who has just advised me that Daisy needs a Donald Duck to make her life complete.

A visit to the Duck Market is scheduled for early in the week.

Oh, dear Lord, love a duck!

Shown on Balidiscovery.com are photos of Daisy and the Upacara Dewa Yadnya.