mats were spread, more trays packed with assorted small offerings
brought out, the mother knelt in front of the spriest. nursing the
baby on her lap. The priest intoned prayers and scattered holy water.
Daylight faded, kerosene lamps illuminated the kneeling group. An
offering appeared to come to life, as i day-old chick, fastened
atop it in a palm leaf "cage" broke loose and tried to
scramble for freedom over the pile of food and flowers; on which
it was perched. An elderly woman, a wad of betelnut clamped between
her lips, grabbed the chicken, thrust it back into. it leafy prison
and replaced it atop the offering.
chick was making another. effort to escape, when I found, a young
woman standing beside me, firmly clutching a half-grown pullet with
both hands. Good grief Did this mean I had to watch a couple of
birds decapitated as part of the offering My stomach did a few backflips
before I learnt that it is traditional to have a chicken at a christening.
The bird is kept as a living emblem of the occasion, and grows up
with the baby, who, when old enough a~ understand, is "introduced"
to the christening chick.
that accounted for the poultry - but now another item caught my
attention. Standing brazenly beside the priest was large blue plastic
baby's bath. Surely the guest of honour was not. going to be dunked
in holy water as well as sprinkled with it. Thankfully, the tub
was only symbolical because, while the old lady, still contentedly
chewing betel, was retrieving the wandering chicken for the third
- or was it the fourth - time, the priest said a final mantra and
christening party was over.Gently Ariaso was carried into the house
True, she did not have the name her parents had hoped for. Instead
she had the one chosen by the gods - and better.ariaso, echoed his
Ariaso,ariaso,murmured nyoman ,smiling down at his tiny daughter.