Two weeks ago I left to the amazing island in Bali, Indonesia. Everywhere you look there is art from their architecture to paintings. There are shrines and temples in almost every block. Every morning the Balinese people leave offerings on the streets in order to appease and please the various gods and demons of Balinese Hinduism. Every house has its own little shrine, usually a dedication to their ancestors. The rice fields have a little shrine dedicated to Dewi Sri, the goddess of rice. The offering on the right are called “canang sari.” They offer them to their Gods three times a day to bring them prosperity and good health to their family. It is a tradition that is based on gratitude to the richness of life. It is their honor and duty to maintain a good relationship between the spirits and people. These small offering are not only street decorations but a daily practice of Balinese women.
These offering are not only placed on the streets but in the temples as well. The temples are holy places that have dress code and etiquette when entering. Before entering everyone, male or female, must wear a sarong around their waist. It is dress code when entering any holy temple. I was able to go to the Pura Tirta Empul temple which posses holiest waters in Bali. The temple dates back to 926 AD, the spring water is sacred and thought to have healing properties. We wore our sarongs before entering and gave a small offering (similar to the ones above) and prayed before entering into the water. The picture below shows the small offerings placed in a row on top of the fountain. We went to each fountain and cleansed ourselves before entering the temple. It was the ultimate purification of the mind, body, and soul!
There were several temples I visited in Bali. I went to the Sacred Monkey Forest, Uluwatu, Batuan, and of course Purta Tirta Empul temple. Each one was unique with the designs and each one serving a purpose. There was not one temple that looked a like. What amazed me was how incredibly detailed each temple had carved out designs and figures out of stone. These ancient temples have been well preserved and are until this day used for their festivals and rituals. Each temple consists of walls surrounding two or three courtyards. The walls surrounding the courtyards are usually heavily decorated with bas-reliefs, depicting stories that can range from traditional Mahabrata mythology or as simple as daily events of a Balinese. The huge, elaborately carved entrance gate is usually a split gate, known also as Candi Bentar. Candi Bentar is usually guarded on both sides by statues of temple guards. Sculptured figures can be found in various locations in a temple (as shown below).
All the temples I visited contained number of shrines dedicated to the various gods and goddesses. The Balinese women present their offerings on the shrines in each temple. Also, some of temples have monkeys walking around stealing anything they can take from tourists. In this picture on the right, I was at the Uluwatu temple which is a temple located on the cliff side of Bali. You can see there is a monkey photo bombing my picture. He had stolen someone’s water bottle! The Uluwatu temple has a beautiful ocean view that is breathtaking when the sun is setting. There are several stair ways to walk before reaching the temple.
Overall being in Bali you will be surrounded by art and nature all at the same time! Their culture and traditions were very interesting to learn and get to experience personally.