The Fiery Battle - a Balinese tradition before the Nyepi holiday

The Fire Battle or the Fire Ceremony Ter Teran in Karangasem takes place once every two years, and it's not at all what you would ever expect to see.
In Bali, I've long been accustomed to offerings in woven baskets, noisy ceremonies, statues of gods and demons, drum dances, but here at the ceremony, I stood with my mouth open and couldn't utter a word.
The mystique of what was happening covered me generously with a waterfall of silence.
Dozens of local residents and I waited in darkness, without a single sound, for the ceremony to begin. From the deafening silence and darkness, nine people in white attire emerged and passed before us like spirits. Following them came men in black and white checkered sarongs, with bare torsos and udeng headbands.
These are the warriors of the village who will participate in the battle.
The crowd eagerly followed them. Everyone walked silently through the temple and narrow streets in complete darkness for at least half an hour. Before reaching the intersection, everyone sat down and clasped their palms in prayer in front of themselves. Residents from neighboring villages began to join us from other roads.
After a long wait, we saw a corridor of fire. Men carrying lit torches made of coconut leaves walked ahead. They sat in a circle at the center of the intersection and recited a prayer. Someone among them shouted.
A snap. An explosion and fire descended upon the first rows of people, including us. Sparks were everywhere on my face, clothes, and body. For several seconds, I couldn't grasp what had happened. I couldn't move. The crowd started running towards the village with cries, the men with fiery torches leading the way, receding like a small, sparkling red clump.
After nearly two hours of silence and darkness, the roar of people chasing the fire seemed alien and unnatural. My fingers slipped from Person V's hand, and I was carried by the wave of the crowd to the very heart of the ceremony. People hid behind trees, expecting the flames of the torches to engulf them.
First round.
Two teams from different villages lit coconut brooms in the bonfire and froze in anticipation of the signal. The sound of a whistle deafened everyone for a moment. In an instant, sparks of fire rained down onto the street. A real fiery massacre.
According to tradition, this is the moment of releasing all the pent-up emotions, one's own inner demon. But there was no anger or aggression in it. Everything around was enveloped in laughter and smiles mixed with a trembling sense of adrenaline.
The fire transformed from an aggressive stranger into a fearless friend.
Second round... Third...
Release. That's what remains inside. A feeling of tranquility and lightness with absolute disbelief in what's happening.
May this magic remain the brightest memory of the departing year in Bali, 1940.
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