In my last week at Bali, I took a lot of pictures. Around Ubud and in Pemuteran, mostly, but a few around Seminyak again as I did some businessy stuff before my flight out. Rather than provide another long insufferable writing piece, I’m going to offer up some shorter peppier photo essays. I use “photo essays” because it makes what’s about to happen sound fancy.
The first one: my lucky discovery of a Full Moon Festival in the town of Tegalalang just north of Bali. I had decided to go on an extended motorbike ride, cause it’s so much fun, drove past the rice terraces and noticed on my GPS that there was a little road that circled back to town through the country side. Perfect! Lovely drive, plus I happened to do it during a special day called Purnama., or Full Moon Festival. I came across this little village and the place was a’bustling! I parked my “iron horse”, and as I walked into a temple, a very nice man pulled me over and told me I had to change my ways if I wanted to stick around. Namely put on a hat and wear a sarong, which he gave me. So, I did that and wandered around the festivities, talking with people who were very friendly and welcoming. In fact, one guy pulled me over to a beruga (sitting platform) and offered me coffee. I ended up chatting with this group of men, who were taking a break from all the setting up, for about half an hour. All were interested in where I came from, and why I was there. Compared to other white visitors, an American was a relative novelty here, it seems. One guy wanted to talk Elvis. Another Arnold Schwarzegger. Another about the climate in America. I in turn asked them about the festival and about their families. Their English wasn’t great, but leagues better than my Balinese or Indonesian. (Evidently, English is mandatory at schools here until high school, and many take more classes so they can interact with tourists). Anyway, I promised a photo essay, so here it is. My shots taken before the festival (which wasn’t going to start until later that night). The temple is called Pura Sanghyana Alang and is in Tegalalang, Bali, just north of Ubud.
I didn’t take as many pictures of people as I could have, because I don’t have that nosy photojournalist mojo going for me. Plus, I really thought I was being intrusive to take pictures of people while they were going about a sacred endeavor. Maybe not, but…still.
Back on the road, I took a lovely hour long ride through the countryside. And here’s what I saw!
Every village has at least three temples. Every village. That’s a lot of temples, not to mention all the big ones and tiny ones, nor all the shrines that most families have in their homes, somewhere. So there’s a thriving business for temple replacement materials.
Since you asked, the three purrs are:
Pura Puseh: A temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu (the preserver). Vishnu can take on different incarnations, and can move freely between the earthly world and the heavenly world. All Pura Pusah are located at the upper end of the village, as the river/stream runs. Vishnu’s ability to settle the outburst of evil powers makes him the right deity for the entrance to the village.
Pura Desa: A temple dedicated to Lord Brahma (the creator). Pura Desa are located in the middle of the village, and people gather there to pray as well as hold community meetings. Lord Brahma is the god of creation, so he’s a good one to have on your side.
Pura Dalem: A temple of Lord Siva (Deva Siva), the destroyer. Pura Dalem guard the downstream exit / end of a village. Believers believe that Siva purifies ones ancestors and converts them into deities. He judges the good and evil deeds of a person and decides the punishment/reward. So, again, good to have on your side.
I talked with a Spanish hotel manager, who has lived in Bali for 2 years, and he told me that Balinese spend up to 1/3 of their annual income on donations to support their religion, including temple maintenance and the ceremonies that happen at their pure. That seems like a lot for a relatively poor population.
And that was it. Soon thereafter I entered Ubud, and bought a Coke Zero. 🙂