Traditional Balinese mud bath draws the crowds

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The mud bath is known locally as Mebuug-buugan. (AFP)
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Villagers of all ages smeared mud on anyone in the vicinity, after praying for safety and good fortunes. (AFP)
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In the past, participants were naked during the mud festivities. (AFP)
Updated 09 March 2019

Traditional Balinese mud bath draws the crowds

  • The mud bath is believed to purify and remove bad luck and negative energy
  • Dozens of tourists watched on the sidelines and snapped pictures to capture the moments

DENPASAR, Indonesia: A day after Indonesia’s holiday island of Bali fell quiet for the annual “Day of Silence” festival, hundreds joined a mud bath purification ritual which has been recently revived after a sixty-year hiatus.
The mud bath, known locally as Mebuug-buugan, is believed to purify and remove bad luck and negative energy.
Men, women and children, wearing sarongs and traditional head gear, collected lumps of mud from a mangrove forest in Kedonganan village, just outside the town of Denpasar on Friday, and smeared themselves as part of the purification ritual.
It comes a day after Nyepi, a Balinese festival where Hindus — plus non-Hindus and tourists on the island — are expected to stay home and self-reflect, while flights, lights and the Internet are all stopped.
In the past, participants were naked during the mud festivities, but in the mid-twentieth century locals grew more uncomfortable with public nudity.
The festivities were halted for six decades, until being revived three years ago — on the understanding that the concept of the ritual would change so participants were allowed to wear clothes.
Villagers of all ages smeared mud on anyone in the vicinity, after praying for safety and good fortunes.
After the mud bath ritual they headed to the nearest beach together to rinse the dirt and ward off evil spirits.
The ritual has been popular since its return, and dozens of tourists watched on the sidelines and snapped pictures to capture the moments which once disappeared for decades.
On Wednesday, a day before Nyepi, the island held its annual ritual to ward off demons and evil spirits.
In the parade, colorful effigies known as Ogoh-Ogoh were paraded through the streets before being burned, representing renewal and purification.
Indonesia is a Muslim-majority country but more than 80 percent of Bali’s population identify as Hindu and practice a local version of the religion.


Israeli jeweler makes $1.5m gold coronavirus mask

Updated 11 August 2020

Israeli jeweler makes $1.5m gold coronavirus mask

  • The 18-karat white gold mask will be decorated with 3,600 white and black diamonds
  • The Israeli company says it will be the world’s most expensive coronavirus mask

MOTZA: An Israeli jewelry company is working on what it says will be the world’s most expensive coronavirus mask, a gold, diamond-encrusted face covering with a price tag of $1.5 million.

The 18-karat white gold mask will be decorated with 3,600 white and black diamonds and fitted with top-rated N99 filters at the request of the buyer, said designer Isaac Levy.

Levy, owner of the Yvel company, said the buyer had two other demands: that it be completed by the end of the year, and that it would be the priciest in the world. That last condition, he said, “was the easiest to fulfill.”

He declined to identify the buyer, but said he was a Chinese businessman living in the United States.

The glitzed-up face mask may lend some pizzazz to the protective gear now mandatory in public spaces in many countries. But at 270 grams (over half a pound) — nearly 100 times that of a typical surgical mask — it is not likely to be a practical accessory to wear.

n an interview at his factory near Jerusalem, Levy showed off several pieces of the mask, covered in diamonds. One gold plate had a hole for the filter.

“Money maybe doesn’t buy everything, but if it can buy a very expensive COVID-19 mask and the guy wants to wear it and walk around and get the attention, he should be happy with that,” Levy said.

Such an ostentatious mask might also rub some the wrong way at a time when millions of people around the world are out of work or suffering economically. Levy said that while he would not wear it himself, he was thankful for the opportunity.

“I am happy that this mask gave us enough work for our employees to be able to provide their jobs in very challenging times like these times right now,” he said.