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Sunday, 01 July 2018

Bali: Indonesia's Island of Temples

Written by Jim Chamberlain
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I have not seen or read Eat, Pray, Love. I am not sure I want to. I did want to see the most exotic of destinations in Asia. The island of Bali. What I expected was probably a combination of swaying palm trees and beautiful beaches with an Southeast Asian ambiance. What I experienced was one of the most spiritual cultures in Asia.

Bali is a Hindu enclave in the most populous Muslim country in the world, Indonesia. The island's location allowed it to remain isolated and retain its centuries old culture while the rest of Indonesia became mostly Muslim. Christianity flourished during the colonial period of Dutch rule in these islands but Bali remained Hindu.

Along the pier, three Balinese women greeted the cruise ship tourists with the "sembah" (to greet by clasping two hands together in front of the chest while slightly bowing). The streets and roads from the port of Benoa pass thru the Capital of Denpasar on the way to cultural center of Ubud. Our guide told us that every home has its own temple and that spiritualism is at the center of Balinese life. They offer small offerings each day on the sidewalks or gates to the various gods or demons they wish to placate, You could see small sticks of incense burning next to offerings of rice, fruit or flowers on banana leaves or in small baskets all over the towns and villages. Religious activity still permeates almost every aspect of Balinese life, so much so that religious events apparently occupy a third of the average Balinese social calendar according to our guide.

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There may be ten thousand temples on this island or more counting all the personal ones. I chose to visit two of the most important ones on the island, Pura Puseh in the village of Batubulan. and Kenta Gosa (the Temple of Justice) in Klungkung.

Batubulan village is in the center of the island between Denpasar and Ubud. The village is a center for stone and wood carvings as well as painting. I visited a wood carving center and the work of the artists is very detailed and carvings of over six feet tall are not unusual. Many villages specialize in one kind of artwork. Celuk Village is famous for its highly skilled gold and silver craftsmen and Mas Village, is renowned for its master carvers of teak, mahogany, ebony and hibiscus wood. The village of Tenganain makes woven baskets.

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Last modified on Sunday, 01 July 2018
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