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The Healing of Bali (2003)

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clip 'The gods are angry' education content clip 2

This clip chosen to be PG

Clip description

The Balinese people believe that the bombing of a nightclub was a sign of displeasure by the gods. Psychiatrist Dr Denny Thong explains the feeling of the people. A temple priest, Mangku Sakenan, explains that a ceremony is held to appease the gods.

Teacher’s notes

provided by The Le@rning FederationEducation Services Australia

This clip shows two men reflecting on the response of the Balinese people to the 2002 Bali bombings. Dr Denny Thong, a psychiatrist, describes the general feeling of guilt among the Balinese, who feel responsible for the tragedy. Mangku Sakenan, a temple priest, explains his belief that by not taking care of the natural environment his people have insulted and angered the gods. They describe the need to appease the gods through ceremony, prayer and respect for nature. The interviews are intercut with images of Bali, including a large Hindu festival and the Kuta bombsites.

Educational value points

  • This excerpt is taken from the documentary The Healing of Bali, which explores the Balinese response to terrorist bombings in Kuta on 12 October 2002. The film, released in 2003, was directed by John Darling, who lived and made films in Bali from the 1970s to the 1990s. He returned after the 2002 bombings to document the aftermath of the bombing and to try to provide an insight into the Balinese approach to grief and healing.
  • On 12 October 2002 two bombs detonated by suicide bombers exploded in the Balinese tourist resort of Kuta, killing 202 people (including 88 Australians) and injuring a further 209. After The Healing of Bali was made, another terrorist attack took place on 1 October 2005 in Jimbarin and Kuta, killing another 23 people and injuring a further 129. The perpetrators responsible for both Bali bomb attacks are suspected of belonging to the terrorist network Jemaah Islamiyah, an Islamic extremist group with alleged links to Al-Qaeda.
  • Shots of vacant shops with 'for rent’ signs indicate how the tourism-driven economy suffered after the 2002 terrorist attacks. The number of tourists visiting Bali declined by approximately 40 per cent in the year following the 2002 bombings but increased again and was on track for a record year in 2005 before the second terrorist attack. In 2006 Bali tourist arrivals fell by approximately 20 per cent. In 2006 there was a decline of 57 per cent in Australian tourists to Bali, but this is likely to have been influenced by a range of factors including Indonesian–Australian relations at the time and the widespread publicity of major drug cases brought against Australians in Indonesia.
  • About 93 per cent of Bali’s population adhere to Balinese Hinduism (Agama Tirtha), a form of Hinduism that has been influenced by Buddhism and older beliefs and practices, indicating the importance of religion in Bali. While the rest of Indonesia progressively converted from Hinduism to Islam, Bali remained true to the Hindu faith and developed a particular version of the religion separate from that practised in India. Balinese Hinduism is inextricably connected with art and ritual and has an emphasis on the role of local and ancestral spirits. Ritual, music and dance are important for religious expression and are interwoven into artistic displays as part of festivals such as those shown in the film clip.
  • The belief among the Balinese that the terrorist attacks were a sign from the gods, a consequence of not taking enough care of the natural environment, is described by Dr Thong and Mangku Sakenan. They explain how the natural environment and spiritual belief are closely connected in Balinese Hinduism. The role of ceremony in the aftermath of the attacks is regarded as having a cleansing effect and is necessary in order to heal and restore the 'essential balance’ between the people and the natural environment as it is understood in Balinese Hinduism.
  • The mystical figure Rangda, goddess of the underworld who represents the destructive forces, is shown as a large figure carried aloft as part of a large Balinese festival. In Balinese mythology, Rangda is a child-eating widow witch, recognisable by her long, unkempt hair, claws and a mask with bulbous eyes and fangs. When illness or misfortune occur in a village it is customary for Rangda to feature in ritual dances with Barong, the lion or dragon who represents the benevolent protector of humankind. The dance is performed to restore balance and to ask the gods for mercy.

This clip starts approximately 18 minutes into the documentary.

On stage the dance of Rangda, goddess of the underworld, is being performed.

Dr Denny Thong is being interviewed. There are also images of a car damaged in the explosion, Balinese offerings laid inside the wreckage, and vacancy signs outside buildings.
Psychiatrist Dr Denny Thong Balinese is very – always try to be polite to guests. That’s always something. They are the owners of this island and they did something wrong. And that’s why, when you go out everywhere in Bali, people say to see you, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry’. They feel guilty because they haven’t been able to take care of the guests. This is actually a sign of the gods. ‘You did something wrong. Try to look for it and repair it.’

A temple priest, Mangku Sakenan, is being interviewed. There are also images of ceremonial sculptures, vacant stores and beaches deserted by tourists. A naked Balinese child plays at the edge of the water. The English subtitles read:
Mangku Sakenan I think we are at fault in not having taken enough care of the natural environment, which is an insult to the gods. The gods are angry. They are no longer protecting us. And so we are more vulnerable to our enemies. If everyone prays enough and shows respect for nature, then the gods will look after us.

Denny Thong is being interviewed.
Denny Thong For example, on the 15th, we are having this very big ceremony. It’s supposed to cleanse everything, to make everybody satisfied and to come to terms again with nature.

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