Friday, October 13, 2006

Bali sends world a message of peace

Rita A. Widiadana, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar

More than two thousands people of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds paid their respects to the 202 victims of the 2002 Bali bombings by observing 30-minutes of silence in Denpasar on Thursday night.
The climax of series of commemorations the event, "Love and Peace from Bali to the World" was held at the Bajra Sandhi Museum and Public Square and brought together families of the bombing victims, religious and community leaders, artists, students, officials and academics.
Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Catholics and Protestants also took part in a large interfaith prayer illuminated by thousands of candles.
"May the souls of the victims rest in peace. And may peace always be with us," Hindu High Priest Ratu Ida Pedanda Manuaba said in prayer.
In the background, a choir group chanted holy words, creating a somber atmosphere.
Addressing the event, Bali Governor Dewa Beratha praised religious leaders on the island for fostering peace, tolerance and brotherhood.
After the Oct. 12 bombing, people in Bali were afraid that ethnic or religious conflict would erupt between locals and migrants but the fears were groundless, he said.
"The terrorists failed to tear Bali apart and create ethnic conflicts like those that have occurred in other parts of Indonesia, including in Ambon (Maluku) and Poso in Sulawesi," Beratha said.
The Balinese are known for their tolerance of other ethnic groups and religions, he said.
This came from the Nyama Braya tradition, ideas that put an emphasis on strengthening friendship and rejecting acts of revenge.
The event was preceded by a march of hundreds of young students who laid down 1,400 meters of white cloth in the Pada Yatra Ngider Bhuwana ritual. The name of the Hindu rite, which literally means "encircling the earth", is meant to purify Bali's soil from devilish influences. The white cloth is later thrown into the sea in a symbolic casting out of evil.
"We hope the ceremony will again bring peace and purity to Bali and other parts of the world," A.A. Suryawan, chairman of the organizing committee, said.
Also showcased at the event was a performance of the sacred Rejang dance by pre-pubescent girls, another symbol of purity.
Earlier in the afternoon, people attended several activities at "Ground Zero", on Legian Street, the site of the worst attack.
The colorful commemoration saw a group of youngsters clad in glittering Balinese costumes and carrying colorful flowers -- roses, jasmine and gardenia. Hundreds of other people carried a large banner saying "Stop Violence and Terror. Bali is a Peaceful Place".
Meanwhile, the National Integration Movement led by spiritual leader Anand Khrisna charmed spectators with its melodious chants, transforming Kuta street into a "field of love".
Local poets Eka Budianta and Cok Sawitri also performed In The Face of a Fallen Leaf, a message of peace and friendship.
Robert H. Smith, a Dutch citizen, said Oct. 12 was a special time to remember the loss of a dearly loved one. "We lost our best friend here ... This is our fourth attendance."
The Smith family always brought letters and flowers from people in the Netherlands who wanted to remember the victims of the attacks and the people of Bali.
"Every time we come here, we can barely breathe. It is just too sad. But we have to keep on moving for the sake of humanity and never surrender to any terrorist threats."
The one-hour ceremony was closed by the Balinese Oleg Tambullilingan performance.

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