INDONESIA: Kites as Pastime or Offering to the Gods?

INDONESIA: Kites as Pastime or Offering to the Gods?


WMB Bali Kite Flying 2

Dry season on the island of Bali brings along some really strong winds; the whistling, tree bending kind. It’s still extremely hot, but at least the afternoon winds are refreshing, making it the perfect conditions for kite flying season.

This year I promised the kiddos that I would get them a kite to fly in the park. I found a little shop close to the school that sold some inexpensive kites in the shapes of dragonflies. I bought a red, black and yellow one and took the kiddos to the Lapagnan Puputan Park after class. In fact, the lady that sold me the kite spoke to me in her native Indonesian and said the kite was 15 thousand rupiahs, but I understood 50 thousand. Thankfully, she was kind enough to chase after me with my change when I had already walked away with the kite. Expat life…

The winds were so strong that it really was not that easy. Unfortunately, our string wasn’t a full constant thread but had a knot tying two pieces together. It didn’t take long for it to break with the wind. Big Kiddo decided to run while holding the kite and he had a better time of it. On that note, next is a photo from a much more successful kite flying attempt he had with his father weeks prior by the ocean. Check out his airplane kite!

WMB Bali Kite Flying Child

We love seeing the kites everywhere, out the windows of our house and when we drive somewhere the kiddos always find new ones with beautiful colors and start counting how many owl shaped ones or how many fish ones they see on a trip somewhere.

Kite flying in Bali is not just a pastime for the kids; it is a cultural and religious phenomenon that takes over life itself for the entire dry season.

Between May and September, the sky is spotted with kites, of all sizes and colors; many are as far away as a kilometer it would seem (I’m sure it’s not that far up, but it feels like that).

Everywhere you look there are kids flying small kites, in parks and beaches there are groups of men flying giant kites, on the sidewalks kids making kites out of sticks and plastic bags.

There is no piece of sky untouched by a kite on a string. You may even trip on one if you aren’t paying attention. If the winds are good, the kids will tie their kite to a rock or tree and play ball while it flies.

Why are kites so important in Bali?

Kites are seen as an offering to the gods, a fun way to appease the demons, and good old competition. All with the hopes of having a successful harvest that year.

Apart from the kites for children, there are ceremonial kites that can be so big they need teams of 10 men to fly. They come in different combinations of red, black and white.

WMB Bali Kite Flying 3

Every August, the village of Sanur holds a kite flying competition on the beach. There are three different categories, the classic fish shape kite, kites with a tail that can be as long as a 100 meters, and “new creation” kites which are usually animals or other crazy constructions.

Every team of kite fliers has flyers, flag bearers, and Gamelan musicians to accompany the flying of the kites. The competition consists of points for best launch, height of flight, length of flight and amount of control. Kudos for the kites that don’t fall to the ground!

Made with very thin cloth sewn onto bamboo sticks, the traditional fish-shaped kite is the kind that the kids learn to make at school with pieces of plastic bags. Once the kites are ready to be taken somewhere to fly, be it for the competition or for practice, the flying teams pack up the kites together on a truck, stopping traffic for almost an hour. Whenever we run into one, the kiddos love seeing what kinds of kites are being packed on the truck.

Given my own attempts at kite flying, perhaps next time we’ll just enjoy watching the experts!

This is an original guest post to World Moms Blog by Orana Velarde of Bali, Indonesia. She can be found on her blog, Crazy Little Family Adventure

Photo credits to the author. 

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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BRAZIL:  1, 2, 3…?

BRAZIL: 1, 2, 3…?

1,2,3It is no secret to those who know me that marrying and having kids wasn’t exactly part of my life plan. I thought someday I might want to, but up to my 24th year of age – which is when I got pregnant with our first child – the feeling hadn’t come up. My husband, on the other hand, wanted to marry and have a bunch of kids from the time he was a teenager!

After a lot of inner work and, above all, after seeing our son’s face for the first time, I fell in love with motherhood. The issue then became: how many children would we actually have? What exactly would be the average between my hesitance and my husband’s “as-many-as-I-can-convince-her-to”?

The answer was part instinct, part serendipity. As a wedding gift, one of my husband’s college professors had a painting made especially for us. The painter did not know us, so (as the story goes) the professor described us as two young, nature-loving, alternative creatures. The piece that resulted – which now hangs right here behind me – portrays a solemn-looking, round-faced couple that is so close they could be Siamese twins. The left hand of each rests on the other’s heart. The girl wears a flower printed dress, has flowers in her hair and a single flower in her hand. The guy wears a suit of sorts. On the side of each of their shoulders is a green, succulent plant, and above each plant is an angel resting on what seems like a marble pillar, one blue, one yellow. Above the couple is a yellow, flying fish.

I was five months pregnant then and had just found out the baby was a boy. The name we chose means “he who tills the earth”. I don’t know who said it first, but we started joking that the blue angel was our boy, the yellow angel was our future second child (a daughter whose name would mean “lady of the waters” in an Indigenous language) and the flying fish would be our youngest (a little boy whose name – a reference to a famous Greek character – would mean “he who balances himself in the air”).

Coincidence or not, here we are almost nine years later with the three of them, born in that order and aged nearly nine, two and a half, and five months. And with the added bonus that both our lady of the waters and our little “flying fish” were born in our tub, to the sign of Pisces!

Having gone through a particularly difficult pregnancy this last time, I constantly tried to convince my husband to undergo a vasectomy. He, however, did not even want to hear about it (like many men I know, he has a huge needle phobia!).

Later, while I was in labor, he said he would do it (talk about good timing!). At that moment I was ecstatic, yet after the baby was born I began to question myself about our decision. I look at that cute little baby (it doesn’t help that he is so calm and sleeps so well!!) and think wistfully, “Oh my, this is the last baby in the house until we have grandkids!” Or now, as the time approaches to start introducing food in addition to nursing, “This is the last time I will be able to smell this pure breast milk breath all the time!” And so on…

My husband of course took advantage of all this and decided to postpone the vasectomy for another two years until I am absolutely sure.

When I stop to really ponder, three seems like a perfect number considering our life style and the way we raise our kids. For instance, we enjoy working from home as much as possible and choose to rely on as little outer help as possible; all of this gets harder with more kids.
Of course, if we “accidentally” did have more children we would find a way. On the other hand, if my husband did undergo a vasectomy and then we later changed our mind, we could adopt (which was a possibility we had considered before having our third child).

Do I really want more kids or am I just attached to this cute baby phase? The truth is, I don’t really know the answer right now! Let’s see what the future has in store…
And you, how many kids do you have? Was it a planned number or did it just happen? How did you decide? Please share your story!

This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our enviro-mama and mother of three in Brazil, EcoZiva.

The photograph used in this post is of the referenced painting commissioned for the author and her husband. It was submitted by the author.

Ecoziva (Brazil)

Eco, from the greek oikos means home; Ziva has many meanings and roots, including Hebrew (brilliance, light), Slovenian (goddess of life) and Sanskrit (blessing). In Brazil, where EcoZiva has lived for most of her life, giving birth is often termed “giving the light”; thus, she thought, a mother is “home to light” during the nine months of pregnancy, and so the penname EcoZiva came to be for World Moms Blog. Born in the USA in a multi-ethnic extended family, EcoZiva is married and the mother of two boys (aged 12 and three) and a five-year-old girl and a three yearboy. She is trained as a biologist and presently an university researcher/professor, but also a volunteer at the local environmental movement.

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