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  • The sound of sweeping will never be the same. A cup of tea and brush bristles scraping against the floor is enough for me to recall all the colours, smells, stories and memories associated with the beautiful people of Indonesia.

    Hinduism is the dominant religion in Bali and as part of their daily routine the women must lay offerings - plaited palm baskets filled with coloured petals and rice - around their houses and throughout the streets. Sometimes the offerings would contain a biscuit or a sweet. I wonder whether it is the Gods or the demons that have the sweet tooth?

    A huge amount of the day is taken up plaiting the containers and preparing the offering, an act that all girls learn from their parents and grandparents at an early age. The offerings are a way of thanking their God for the richness of their lives, whist at the same time making bargains with demons, which they believe house themselves in all physical objects. Occasionally you would see offerings on sat on the seat of a bicycle or on a roadside bin. Inanimate objects suddenly empowered to chase away evil.

    The girl in the picture swept away the last of the remaining pink, blue and red petals. She removed the broken basket which held them, and cleared the road for more to be laid. It matters not that the cars and motorcycles crush the offerings because inso doing good fortune is passed onto the the driver. The ritual was so elegant and beautiful to observe that the chaos of the traffic that effortlessly worked its way around her became a partner in this ritualistic dance. The sound of a busy street scene suddenly became something quite beautiful. With the added knowledge of why she was sweeping the road the familiar sound of bristles scraping concrete became attention worthy. You didn't have to see the ritual, just hear the sound. Irritatingly beautiful.
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