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Bali Celebrates Festival of Good Over Evil 4 Days After Terrorist Attacks


Balinese Hindus have been celebrating one of their most important festivals - Galungan - which marks the mythical victory of the gods over the demons. The ceremonies come just four days after terrorist bombs hit the island for the second time in three years, casting a pall over the normally joyful festivities.

The Balinese festival of Galungan is marked by prayers, visits to temples, family reunions, and the sacrifice of pigs and chickens to the gods.

A Hindu religious leader rings the bells at the centuries old Pura Puseh temple, enticing the gods to return to the shrine on this sacred day.

Kutut Pijar, dressed in traditional white headscarf and sarong, says today he is praying for peace in Bali.

Mr. Kutut says he believes in the meaning of this special day, which celebrates the triumph of good over evil.

All over the island, Balinese are celebrating the holy day but for many islanders, the day is clouded by Saturday's terrorist attacks, which claimed 22 lives, including those of the three suspected suicide bombers.

Wayang sells incense at Singa Padu temple. She says she is worried and very sad about the latest terrorist attack.

Indonesian authorities believe the bombings were carried out by the regional terrorist network Jemaah Islamiyah. Members of the Islamic militant group were convicted in the October 2002 bombings on Bali, which killed 202 people, many of them foreign tourists.

Bali's economy was just recovering from the 2002 attack when the bombers struck again Saturday. Around 80 percent of the people on this island depend on tourism for income, so many are worried.

Made, a teacher, says he was shocked the terrorists were able to strike a second time.

"We didn't realize that the bombing will happen again in Bali, because the condition of Bali is just getting better now and then suddenly another disaster," he said.

At Jimbaran beach, the peaceful sound of the waves gives no sign of the catastrophe that happened here Saturday when bombs exploded in two packed restaurants.

Joka, who owns the restaurant between the two that were bombed says this year Galungan leaves him sad, but he is optimistic his business - and the others along this famous beach - will survive.

Wednesday also marks the start in Indonesia of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins around the world this week. Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population, and many of the faithful say they began the holy month with prayers for peace for their countrymen in Bali.

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