Mar 19, 2019
A visit to a temple in Bali, is far different than one in Europe. In Europe people marvel at how the stones were piled together, centuries ago. It’s mostly about eyes, observing and mind, reasoning. I remembered going to Notre Dame, in Paris, many years before the fire, and walking the dark, cold corridors, along other tourists, looking up to the ceiling, wondering how it was possible to make such a stone puzzle.
In Bali, a temple visit is a complete, sensuous and spiritual experience. The stones will maybe be there but are, by far, the least important component. There is incense and flower, and often food, smell; there are the colourful parasols, flags and penjors; the ladies’ kebayas and sarongs; the gambelan music sound, the bells and mantras, the crowd and the children chatting, the women dancing, the numerous offerings… There will be people eating outside (some temples inside, as well), smoking… It not just part of life – it is life!
If you’re a tourist, you can google as much as information as possible (unfortunately there isn’t much), hire a guide, listen to his (sort of made up) stories, rent, or buy a sarong, be constantly touted and squeezed for donations, walk the area, take some pictures and leave. You will only be allowed to visit if there is no major ceremony going on, and that is precisely when the visit is less interesting.
However, if you have the time and chance (like I fortunately did) integrate a local praying excursion, dress accordingly, attend the ceremonies, pray along, watch the dance performances, feel the overall environment and experience what this temple is there for.
The photos below were taken one day before Batara Turun Kabeh (2019) – the eve of the tenth lunar month, marking the high point of a full month’s festivities, the name of which translates to “the gods descend together”.
The Balinese believe the gods of all temple shrines on Pura Besakih simultaneously descend to earth during Batara Turun Kabeh, and villagers from all over the island converge to offer them sacrifices and celebrate. (https://www.tripsavvy.com/visiting-pura-besakih-holiest-temple-in-bali-1629099)
Villages and banjars bring their dance crews on performances which succeed throughout the day. As the purpose of the excursion was mainly praying, there was not so much time for picture taking. Still, I managed to get a few ones to share: