I was looking forward to what lay in store for me on the ‘Island of Gods’–an apt attribution for Bali. The thought of pristine blue waters, magnificent beaches, rugged coastlines, dense volcanic hills and picturesque rice paddies lifted my spirits.
About an hour’s drive from the airport is Ubud, the spiritual and cultural centre of Bali. This quaint town is known for therapeutic healing. The very name Ubud is derived from the Balinese word Ubad, meaning medicine. Traditional healers or Balians, as they are called in Balinese, use medicinal herbs and ancient practices to heal patients. After all, nature is God’s own pharmacy. Since I had been experiencing chronic body aches, I decided to take a healing session with a Balian.
At the entrance of his house, was a shrine dedicated to the Hindu God Ganesha. It was decorated with fresh flowers and coconut. The compound wall and the main door were adorned with ornate carvings. This reminded me of a temple back home in India. As I stepped in, a garden with colourful flowers, climbers and fountains welcomed me. I was in awe.
The healer and his wife, an old couple, invited me in. Though they understood very little English, their hospitality spoke volumes. After what seemed to be a visual scan of my aura, the healer took me to the treatment room. The tranquil space, heady incense and fragrant flowers were calming. He gave me a bitter herbal concoction, which I reluctantly swallowed in a gulp. As I laid down, the healer recited a short prayer before commencing the acupressure treatment. “Too much stress and emotional blocks,” he commented, finishing up.
Since childhood, I have been grateful to plants and trees for what they contribute to life on this planet. Maybe that is why nature worship in Bali caught my attention more than anything else.