Balinese ask for forgiveness

Tears flowed as the Balinese asked for forgiveness and understandingfrom last Saturday's bombing  victims and their families at agathering held by heads of the traditional communities of Kuta,Legian and Seminyak here on Wednesday.

Speaking through their tears, the Bendesa Adat, or community heads,also expressed their deepest  sympathy and condolences to the victimsand their families.

"Oh God ... how could this have happened to us? How?" I Made Wandra,the Kuta community head, asked through his tears.

The audience, including foreign journalists, fell silent and somewere barley able to contain their own tears.

"Our nation's sense of humanity has been deeply shaken by thisuncivilized act of terrorism. We never imagined this kind of tragedywould take place here because we have always felt safe in Kuta, Bali.

"Many have said that Bali is a paradise island. However, terroristscan also reach this safe place, meaning that anywhere in the world atanytime a tragedy like this can happen. This proves that no one canguarantee their safety," Wandra said.

The gathering was organized by three community heads -- I Made Wandraof Kuta, I Wayan Widana of Legian and I Wayan Mara of Seminyak – toannounce their plan to hold a series of purification rituals in connection with the bombings.

The gathering, however, turned into an emotional event when theyasked all citizens, government officials and security officers tostrive toward purifying the country and to remain consistent in creating justice, peace and unity. They also urged the nation torefrain from provoking further conflicts.

The attack is believed by Balinese Hindus to have destroyed theharmony between Earth and humans. To restore the balance, Balinesecommunities in Kuta, Legian and Seminyak will perform the Guru Pidukaritual to ask for forgiveness.

This will be followed by the Gendu Piduka ritual, which is a pledgeto work for a better life. The event will be closed with the PecaruanMelabuh Gentuh Nyatur Desa ritual, which is meant to purify the communities and to pray for the blessings of the population. This isin accordance with the Hindu principle of Tri Hita Karana, or thebalance and harmonious relationship between humans and the Creator,humans and humans, and humans and nature.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people continue to visit the blast site to paytheir respects to the dead and to pray for peace in Bali. Visitorsinclude students, members of youth associations, religious groups and also foreign tourists who have remained in Bali.

Earlier in the day, Minister of Social Affairs Bachtiar Chamsyah saidthe central government would donate Rp 1 billion to help rebuild thedevastated area.

In Jakarta, Minister of Resettlement and Regional InfrastructureSoenarno announced that the government had allocated Rp 500 billionfrom the state budget to rebuild public facilities in Legian.

"There were 50 residential houses damaged in the blast and each houseowner will receive Rp 5 million," Soenarno said before attending anextraordinary Cabinet meeting at the State Palace in Jakarta onWednesday.

The money also will be used to repair roads and water pipes damagedin the blast.

Soenarno said the repair work was expected to be completed withinthree months.The government also will finance the reconstruction of 71 shops andother buildings damaged in the explosion.
(Kuta, Bali)

* Published by The Jakarta Post, Bali bombing.