Bazzar (yes, ‘Bazzar’)

The banners all proclaim ‘bazzar’ so I’ll run with this spelling too. I’m not sure if it’s an Indonesian thing, or just a Bali thing, but it sure is a busy thing. Every couple of years a village will stage a fundraiser (or ‘funraiser’* as it is often spelled – very appropriate) that involves everybody to prepare and as many outsiders to participate.

Our village is bang in the middle of a ‘bazzar’. So far two of the four nights have already finished and we will head back tonight for our second lot of food, drink and music. Preparations have been going on for weeks to transform the non-sacred part of the village temple (Pura Desa) into partyhouse central. The decorations have mainly been the responsibility of the men. The women have been rostered to cook for two of each of the four nights and the temporary kitchen set-up looks like a gigantic production line.

With no admission charge, all moneys raised from the sale of food, drink and cigarettes (featured on the menu – only in Indonesia!) goes to the fundraising

cause. This is mostly for temple restorations but could also be to qpurchase equipment for the musicians or, as recently, the acquisition of a new sacred barong.

So from 7pm to 3am for four nights, the women are cooking, the musicians (traditional and popular) are playing, the older men are welcoming visitors and enjoying themselves, the younger men are serving food and drink, and the younger women are competing in the kebaya fashion stakes and acting as hostesses and accountants totting up the bill at the numbered tables. The kebaya (as in the title of this blog) is the beautiful lacy blouse worn as part of the traditional dress. A girl can never have too many, even a Westerner, and there are definite fashion trends. At the moment the bare-shouldered look is popular, with a shorter sleeve. Netting gives an illusion of bareness but is acceptable as cover for temple purposes.

And while all this is going on, dogs and small children roam freely throughout or flop down to sleep, even on the stage.

To help with budgets, tickets of various values are sold for weeks before the event. These can be exchanged for food or drink and topped up with cash on the night.

Events like these are part of the rich, communal social fabric of Balinese life. It’s a privilege to be part of it.

*This is one of my favourite English misspellings in Indonesia. Others are advertisements for houses for rent that might have as many as three ‘bad rooms’ (the mind boggles) and taxi drivers looking for ‘costumers’. And I’m quite sure I have been equally guilty with poor Indonesian spelling and amused (or confused) local people.

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