Drawing on Traditions – Kecak Dance in Uluwatu

Kecak dance is said to have its origins in trance rituals of Bali. This was combined with music and dance that is an integral part of Balinese life and a dance drama performed by a group of men, based on the epic Ramayana was born. Originally a men only dance, it is performed by about 50 to 150 men with bare upper bodies wearing checked sarongs, sitting in concentric circles swaying in a trance like rhythmic manner who throw up their arms, stand and lie prone in unison, chanting ‘chak a chak a chak’ to the accompaniment of the gamelan suara as they depict various scenes from the Ramayana. The voice of the narrator rise high above the chanting explaining the unfolding drama. Many dance troops now incorporate female dancers for the lead roles and have the central figures of the drama decked out in gorgeous costumes and body paint. The lead actor dances in the middle of the ring of dancers acting out various incidents of the epic while the dancer’s movements make interesting patterns even coiling and uncoiling like a giant snake. The chant sets the dance apart as well as giving it its name. Starwood hotels and resorts in Indonesia are found in several major cities and holiday destinations throughout the country making in easy to travel to Indonesia.

The Kecak dance was specially developed for western audiences with the assistance of Wayan Limbak a popular Indonesian traditional dance exponent whose advice was sought to popularize the dance and to preserve the essential cultural elements that make it special. The dance always starts in the reddish glow of a tropical sunset and extends into the night lit only by torches that enhance its dramatic quality, giving it a primeval air. Pura Luhul Uluwatu perched high up on a crag by the ocean is where visitors can catch this dramatic dance performance every day at 6 pm, in one of the most dramatic settings.

Pushpitha Wijesinghe is an experienced independent freelance writer. He specializes in providing a wide variety of content and articles related to the travel hospitality industry.


Celebrate Ancestor’s Day in Cambodia’s Sacred Pchum Ben Festival

Travellers in search of five-star Siem Reap accommodation will be more than pleased with the Anantara Angkor Resort & Spa. Providing guests with a central location this idyllic rest offers modern amenities to suit business travellers as well as holidaymakers.

Renowned as one of Cambodia’s most sacred religious festivals the marking of Pchum Ben or Ancestor’s Day holds a special place in the hearts and minds of Khmer residents the world over. This annual religious ceremony in Cambodia falls on the 15th day of the 10th month in the Khmer calendar with dates in the Georgian calendar alternating between the months of September and October. The 2013 Pchum Ben festival for example was marked from the 3rd to the 5th of October while the dates of this year’s festival falls between 21st and 23rd September.

The national holiday which pays tribute to one’s ancestors also denoted the end of the Buddhist lent period known as Vassa. As an ancient festival that is deeply rooted in Cambodian culture Ancestor’s Day is a day set aside to pays homage to deceased loved ones going back nearly seven generations. Tributes are made in the form of religious sutra chants by Buddhist monks that take place over night. Cambodians believe that it is during this sacred day when the gates of the underworld or hell are opened and is linked with the world of the living. As a belief that is deeply rooted in the cosmic power of King Yama or the monarch of hell the sprits and ghosts of deceased relatives are said to be especially active during this hallowed day when blessing are bestowed upon them in the form of offering food to Buddhist monks and Pail sutra chanting ceremonies conducted at temples. Believed to aid them ascend their temporary abode in hell or alleviate their suffering in some measure the merits committed by living relatives are said to benefit the welfare of relatives in both heaven and hell during Pchum Ben
Visiting the temple with food offerings is a traditional practice and custom of Pchum Ben which literally translates to “meeting and collecting”. The deceased ancestors are believed to bless the living relatives with happiness and good fortune after receiving merit due to the pious activities carried out by their loved ones on this day.


Pushpitha Wijesinghe is an experienced independent freelance writer. He specializes in providing a wide variety of content and articles related to the travel hospitality industry.


Heralding the New Year – Songkran Festival

Although Songkran, celebrated in Thailand from 13 to 15th April each year is known as a water festival where spraying water on everyone seems to be the primary activity, it in fact heralds the Thai New Year. Coming at one of the hottest months, many people make this an excuse to get soaked and to have weeklong celebrations. Occupying a prized location, Citadenes Sukhumvit 16 Bangkok offers convenient access to important business and commercial locations and fun city activities.

Businesses and offices shut down and half the population of Bangkok leaves for their home towns for long awaited family reunions. Water splashing, besides being a fun activity, is a symbol of washing away the misfortunes of the previous year, beginning the New Year afresh. This is similar to cleaning out houses that is also part of the festival. Originally a small symbolic bowl of water was poured over relatives and friends but now buckets, garden hoses and water guns have entered the picture. The first day of Songkran is also National Elders Day. Young people sprinkle perfumed water on the palms of their elders and ask for their blessings. The second day of Songkran is National Family Day. Many families start the day by giving alms to Buddhist monks. Other Songkran rituals include bathing Buddha images in perfumed water at home and in temples and carrying out merit making activities according to Buddhist beliefs. In Sanam Luang a Buddha image is taken in procession through the streets for devotees to sprinkle water on it.

The wildest Songkran celebration takes place in Bangkok on a 5km stretch of street near Patpong. It is packed deep with Thais and tourists in holiday mood wielding water spraying gadgetry. Fire trucks stationed at intersections ambush the revelers with their powerful water hoses providing a respite from the scorching heat. Elephants too are used as water sprayers. Some Thai communities celebrate Songkran a week later than the rest of the country also with water splashing but tempered with cultural activities. Beauty pageants, food fairs and sand sculptures honouring the Buddha are also part of the Songkran festivities. As a highly rated Bangkok apartment hotel, Sukhumvit 16 offers comforts and conveniences to suit the needs of its diverse clientele.

Pushpitha Wijesinghe is an experienced independent freelance writer. He specializes in providing a wide variety of content and articles related to the travel hospitality industry. Google+

Kecak Fire & Trance Dance – Loose yourself in Bali’s most captivating Dance Performance

The many intriguing cultures of the very traditional city of Bali extend into the world of the performing arts. Dance makes a very important part of the Balinese lifestyle and is etched with a spiritual aura. There are several occasions where one can enjoy such Balinese performances. In fact, most of these dances make an important part of the religious functions in Bali but since Bali is extremely popular with the tourists, Balinese Dance can be enjoyed as a separate performance itself.

One of the most popular Balinese Dance performances is the Kecak Fire and Trance dance. There is something thoroughly captivating about this dance ritual that makes it a must see for those visiting Bali. The best part about this dance is that it has made its way into almost every 5 star Ubud accommodation there is. An excellent hotel to enjoy the authentic Kecak dance is at the Alila Villas Bali. Offered as a part of the fun and fiery ‘Flames’ dinner, the dance perfectly complements the ambience of the evening.

The Kecak dance is actually a depiction of the Sanghyang exorcism ritual from the stories of the epic Hindu deity, Ramayana. The dance consists of a chorus of around 100 or more men clad only in a loin cloth. Forming rows of circles, they move their bodies together, left and right all the while rhythmically chanting the words cak ke-cak ke-cak ke-cak. Gradually the rhythm picks up speed and one by one they raise their trembling hands to the air. The dancers actually imitate the Ramanayas troops of apes. The Temple at Taman Ka ja, The Batuba Village, the Ubud Village and the Ubud Temple are all other excellent locations to enjoy an authentic dose of the most popular Balinese dance there is. The Kecak Fire and Trans Dance is the one thing that completes your holiday in Bali.

Pushpitha Wijesinghe is an experienced independent freelance writer. He specializes in providing a wide variety of content and articles related to the travel hospitality industry. Google+

Ramadan in Dubai, a Venerated Occasion

The month of Ramadan is significant for Muslims around the world, and it is celebrated with fervour in the United Arab Emirates. In Dubai, perhaps the most open and cosmopolitan of the Emirates, Ramadan is one of the most important times of the year, and a special occasion for the Muslim faithful. Well-informed travellers intending to visit the Emirate during this time and who desire a comfortable Palm Jumeirah hotel will find an appealing choice in Dubai the Palm Resort & Spa. This attractive resort offers excellent accommodations and attentive hospitality.

According to Islamic tradition Ramadan is considered to be one component of the five central pillars of the religion. At this time of the year Muslims are encouraged to focus on their spiritual life and display great generosity towards the less fortunate. During this special month of the year, healthy Muslims are required to fast from sunrise to sunset, and to also refrain from drinking liquids, smoking and engaging in sexual activity during this period. However pregnant women, young children, the sick and the elderly are exempted from these requirements.

In Dubai many festive events are organized during this month, and the commercial sector experiences an upturn in business. Emirati traditions and hospitality are very much in evidence at this time of the year. Particularly the evening meal of ifthar, when the faithful break their fast, is considered to be a social occasion; throughout the city ifthars are organized where people of diverse nationalities join together in the spirit of the festival.

A number of educational and cultural events are also organized at the time of Ramadan. These are intended to educate the public regarding the significance and importance of this special time of the year. People are instructed on how to behave and conduct themselves during Ramadan. Contests are held where competitors engage in the recital of the Holy Koran, in which the most skilled in recital receive cash awards.

In the city the night market stays open until the early hours of the morning, offering a multitude of dining and shopping options. Not to be missed is the Majlis where visitors can enjoy an array of excellent Arabian foods every night of this month.

Pushpitha Wijesinghe is an experienced independent freelance writer. He specializes in providing a wide variety of content and articles related to the travel hospitality industry. Google+

National Day (Hari Merdeka-Independence Day): A Celebration of Malaysian Spirit

With the conclusion of the Thirty Years War in 1648, the European powers came together to sign the Treaty of Westphalia that established political boundaries in Europe. With the establishment of such boundaries, many countries, especially the Portuguese, the Dutch, the French and the English, sought to extend their land and assert power over other entities as well. With the great era of exploration in the period that followed the Thirty Years War, troops from various European countries landed in modern day Asia, Africa and Australia in search of bountiful land that could be annexed to their own. The centuries that followed saw the colonial powers propagating their social and legal systems to their respective colonies and laying the groundwork for a truly global world today. The twentieth century saw many such colonies gaining formal and legal independence from their colonial rulers and these nations now enjoy a ‘National Day’ to commemorate gaining formal independence. National Day celebrations are always immensely interesting for foreigners and for those staying in Beach Resorts in Langkawi during their in Malaysia. Choosing to take part in Hari Merdeka, the Independence Day of Malaysia, is a worthwhile experience.

Malaysia received formal independence as the Federation of Malaya in 1957 after being colonised by the British for several decades. The celebration takes place on the 31st of August each year. The original celebration in 1957 was graced by the presence of the King and Queen of Thailand, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, The Crown Prince and Princess of Japan and other Heads of Government from South Africa, India, Burma and the United States of America. The annual celebrations include a parade at Merdeka Square, Malacca Town, Kuching, George Town and Putrajaya which can be witnessed by tourists residing in hotels such as The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa.

The proceedings of the parade commence at eight in the morning, with the Arrival of the Sovereigns. This is followed by the Royal Inspection, the National Anthem and the raising of the national flag. To commemorate the true Malaysian spirit, a number of cultural performances are also included and therefore, is a wonderful event to visit in Malaysia for a tourist.

Pushpitha Wijesinghe is an experienced independent freelance writer. He specializes in providing a wide variety of content and articles related to the travel hospitality industry. Google+

Uncover London’s Signature Sporting Event at the Iconic Wimbledon Championships

Tipped to be the most coveted sporting events in the British calendar the grass lawn Grand Slam that is Wimbledon is no ordinary summer tennis tournament in merry old England. Holding the distinct honour of being the oldest tennis competition in the globe the Wimbledon Championships as it’s officially known is also the most prestigious tennis event of the calendar year. Often compared to the Olympics due to its rich history and grand traditions, winning a trophy at this iconic event is the dream of many a tennis player regardless of nationality and age. As the only major Grand Slam that is played on grass courts Wimbledon differs from the three other majors in the tennis year, the Australian Open, US Open and the clay court Roland Garros tournament also known as the French Open.

The 2014 installment of this renowned championship will be the 137th in the event’s history as the first tournament was organized by the All England Club which still hosts the competition, as far back as 1877. Conducted in the grass courts of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club the contest includes men’s, women’s and doubles contests, taking place across two weeks during the latter half June and the first weeks of July. As the only tournament in which the game is played on the original surface of what was then known as “lawn tennis” Wimbledon is considered the most challenging of the four Grand Slams.

Complete with a strict dress code for players, tennis games at Wimbledon are also synonymous with royal patronage and attendance as well as the consumption of strawberries and cream by on-looking fans.

The reigning champion this year is none other than Britain’s own Andy Murray who claimed the title for its native country after a drought of decades in which the championship was won by tennis greats from other nationalities including U.S’s Pete Sampras and Switzerland’s Roger Federer who both secured the men’s singles title a record seven times.

Boasting the largest prize money for a tennis tournament the Wimbledon championships dispended a whopping total of £22,560,000 in 2013. The 2014 contest is due to kick off on the 23rd of June,2014 and the tournament will conclude on the 6th of July crowning new men’s, women’s and doubles champions.

Travellers on the lookout for luxury 4 star UK hotels should look no further than the elegant rests of the Millennium & Copthorne Hotels UK group. Offering guests a variety of UK hotel specials for business and leisure travel this reputed name in the hospitality industry pulls out all the stops when it comes to unforgettable holidays in England.

Pushpitha Wijesinghe is an experienced independent freelance writer. He specializes in providing a wide variety of content and articles related to the travel hospitality industry.


Witness the World’s Finest Set Sail at the Annual Falmouth Tall Ships Regatta

Regarded as one of the most coveted sailing competitions in the world, the Falmouth Tall Ships Regatta is a world class event conducted in the scenic surroundings some of Britain’s most iconic waterways. Organized annually the open contest is a joint venture by Royal Greenwich, Cornwall, Falmouth and London and one of the few competitions in the world that takes places exclusively on English waters. The three day event in Falmouth welcomes more than 40 sail training vessels that hail from various countries around the globe while the town will also come alive with activities and shore side events associated with this yearly contest.

Due to take place from the 28th to the 31st of August, 2014 the parade route of this year’s Tall Ships Regatta takes the breathtaking sailing vessels across some of the most stunning landscapes of the British Isles. Starting their journey on 31st August the ships will sail the calm waters between the St.Mawes and Pendennis castles which were Tudor residences of none other than Henry the VIII. The Parade of Sail will then continue on to the starting line located at iconic Falmouth Bat where they will set off eastward towards the finish line located near the famed Isle of Wight. The participating sailing vessels will then head on to the British capital London where they will sail across the iconic River Thames to the final port in Royal Greenwich. Local celebrations continue on for 5 days after the arrival at Royal Greenwich in a community festival like no other.

The Tall Ships will occupy Falmouth from 28to 31st August while the race for the finish line takes place from the 31st of August to September 2nd. The cruise then follows from the 3rd-5th September with the Royal Greenwich portion of the regatta taking place from 5th to 9th September.

Festivities held in conjunction with the Falmouth Tall Ships Regatta include live musical performances and art showcases. Street theatre events and dance performances are also organized at the town festival which also markets maritime and nautical themed souvenirs and keepsakes.

Travellers in search of the best UK hotel specials available this season should loot to the Millennium & Copthorne Hotels UK for the most advantageous deals in town. Providing guests with a range of 4 star UK hotels across the country this renowned name in global hospitality pulls out all the stops when it comes to luxurious vacations.


Pushpitha Wijesinghe is an experienced independent freelance writer. He specializes in providing a wide variety of content and articles related to the travel hospitality industry.Google+

Asanha Bucha – In Remembrance of the First Sermon of Lord Buddha

for tourists visiting the Golden Triangle in Thailand, the tourism industry of the state has intelligently woven an idea of cultural heritage and natural beauty within the triangle. Nestled comfortably towards the northern most part of Thailand lies the city of Chiang Rai, a beloved destination of tourists with a vociferous appetite for the mystical cultures of the East, a mere fifty or so kilometres from the tripoint of the Golden Triangle which connects Thailand, Myanmar and Laos.

Chiang Rai celebrates a multitude of cultural and religious festivals, and is ideal for the culture vulture in you. For those visiting at the beginning of the year, the King Meng Rai Festival gives travellers an insight into the national pride of the locals while the Flower Festival creates splashes of colour and natural splendour across the city. For those visiting towards the middle of the year, the Asanha Bucha event is one that allows for a tremendously valuable experience in terms of witnessing how the locals venerate their faith. The Asanha Bucha is celebrated with vigour in remembrance of the First Sermon of Lord Buddha.

Given the proximity of the city to the famed Golden Triangle, many opt to reside in Chiang Rai hotels and explore its surroundings during their visit to Thailand. Ideal for this purpose is Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort. This is one resort with an exemplary view of the beautiful jungles of Thailand that also overlooks Myanmar and Laos. Enjoy the precious feeling of being at one with nature and the serenity the surroundings invoke while basking in luxury.

Pushpitha Wijesinghe is an experienced independent freelance writer. He specializes in providing a wide variety of content and articles related to the travel hospitality industry.


The oh so vibrant Vishu Festival!

The much anticipated Vishu Festival is celebrated with great joy and enthusiasm in all sections of Kerala, an Indian state located in the southern region of the country. All over Kerala, people of all ages involve themselves in the festivities of this distinctive and elaborate festival.

As the occasion is considered to feature light and sound, Keralites illuminate their homes with decorative lights and enthusiastically light bunches of firecrackers. Many interesting festivities and rituals are associated with this event.

The central ritual of the festival is the time-honoured Vishukkani, which is a special arrangement of a number of auspicious items considered to symbolize prosperity. These include vegetables and fruits, rice, arecanut, leaves of betel, yellow konna flowers, a metal mirror, coins and sacred texts, which are arranged within the shrine room in each home. According to tradition each family member should view the Vishukkani before anything else in the morning, so each family member walks to the shrine room with eyes shut, whilst small children are sometimes blindfolded.

On the day of Vishu, many of the Hindu faith visit local temples, particularly in the morning hours. Another interesting aspect of the festivities is the special Sadya, or Vishu feast. According to tradition this feast should include similar quantities of sweet, sour, salty and bitter foods. A number of delicious foods and sweetmeats are prepared on the occasion. These include Vishu kanji, a preparation of rice, spices and coconut milk, and Vishu katta, a delectable treat made of fresh rice powder and freshly squeezed coconut milk, served with jaggery, a sweet made of palm treacle.

The festival would not be complete without the Vishukodi, which is the term used for the tradition of the older members of the family handing out small gifts of money to the young children. More affluent people also give presents of money to servants and the less fortunate. Visitors to Kerala will be able to observe these fascinating rituals and observances which are fervently performed by the people of the state.

If you intend to visit the area and are selecting a Kerala resort an outstanding choice would be the Poovar Island Resort. This attractive 3 star hotel in Kerala offers appealing accommodations and courteous hospitality.

Pushpitha Wijesinghe is an experienced independent freelance writer. He specializes in providing a wide variety of content and articles related to the travel hospitality industry.