Battle of fire - a Balinese ritual held on the eve of Nyepi day

Lesya Shinkarenko Report [@lesia.shi]

The battle of fire or Ter Teran Fire Ceremony in Karangasem is held every two years and it's something you do not expect to see.

"The mysticism of what was happening generously covered me with a waterfall of silence.

Dozens of locals and I were waiting in the dark for the ceremony to begin without a sound. Nine men in white robes appeared in front of the audience. They were followed by men covered in black and white sarongs with scarves on their heads.

These are the soldiers of the village who take part in the battle.

The crowd moved zealously after them. All went silently in total darkness through the temple in narrow streets to the crossroads for at least half an hour. Before the crossroads, all sat down and crossed their palms in prayer before them. People from neighboring villages started to join us from other roads.

After a long wait we saw a line of fire. It was men with lit torches made from coconut leaves. They sat in a circle in the middle of the crossroads and prayed together. One of them shouted.

A click. The explosion and fire hit the front rows of people. Sparks were all over my face, clothes and body. For a few seconds, I couldn't understand what had happened. I couldn't move. The crowd began to run towards the village with screams, and men with fire torches went away.

Round one.

Two teams from different villages lit coconut brooms in the fire and froze while waiting for the team. The sound of the whistle stunned everything for a moment. A second after sparks of fire hit the street in hail. A real massacre of fire.

Traditionally, it's a moment of releasing all fierce emotions, a person’s own demon, but there was no anger or aggression in this one. Everyone was laughing and smiling and having a shivering sense of adrenaline at the same time.

Fire turned from an aggressive stranger into a fearless friend.

Round two... Round three... 

Release - that's what stays inside. A sense of serenity and lightness with absolute disbelief in what is happening.

May this magic remain the brightest memory of the departing year."

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