Enjoy the best places to see in Denpasar with a plan including Bali Driver Gede

Friday, August 30, 2019

Historical temple near Ubud

Ubud is in many ways Bali's cultural heart,around Ubud, there are the surrounding by  Ancient holy sites include the intricately carved Goa Gajah (“Elephant Cave”) Yeh Pulr, Samuan Tiga Temple

Goa Gajah 
Goa gajah or Elephant cave is located in the southwest of Bedulu village,next to Yeh Pulu Relief.6 km from Ubud.Known only to local villagers and the bats during centuries of neglect,the cave was revealed to the public in 1923.The bathing place was discovered and restored only in 1954 during archeological investigations done by Mr.Krijsman.It had become filled in and a templebuilt upon it , which had to be moved to its present site. The spring and pond there have given the temple its name-- Pura Taman.

Carved into the stone above the cave entrance is a massive face with bugling eyes and high arched eyebrows.The eyes glance towards the west ot the left as you face the cave.The large ear ornaments do not necessarily indicate a female face,for male royalty also wore such ornaments.This figure represnets Boma (sometimes also called Kala or Sanskrit : Kittimukha ), and it is probably the earliest representation of this figure in bali.According to Balinese texts ( lontar ),Boma is the son of the god Wishnu an dthe goddess Basundari or ibu ( Mother ) pertiwi .Boma may be likened to the child of water and earth, for wisnu is the gid of waters and Parwati is the goddess of the soil or mother earth.

Yeh Pulu Relief
Relief Yeh Pulu was discovered by the army-commander of the kingdom of Ubud for the first time in 1925 .it is one of the classic monumenets from the  14 AD century.The research about this monument was published by DR.W.F. Sutterheim,the head of the Dutch Archeologiacl Department in 1929.

The name of Yeh Pulu is derived from an image of a bowl where the water comes out in one part of the relief .Yeh means water and Pulu means large a earthenware bowl used for water. The relief is carved 25 meters large by 2 meters along a steeply sloped riverbank.The daily activity of people during that time is perpetuated through this beautiful relief .Besides the relief itself,there are several niches that are used by the King of Bedahulu for meditation.

Pura Samuan Tiga
Pura samuna Tiga ( Samuan Tiga Temples ) was a meeting place for the religious leaders in the era of the Gunapriyadharmapatni and Udaya Kingdoms ,about 1001 AD. the concept of Desa Pekraman ( the traditional Balinese Village system ) was initiated during this time . The agreement of social relegious system development in Bali was created by one of the central figures in Bali-- Mpu Kuturan.He was the one of the famous knights and the religious leader of the kingdom.

According to the book written by R.Goris,there were 9 sects in the Old Bali period.They were the Pasupata,Bhairawa,Siwa Shidanta,Waisnawa,Budha ,Brahma,Resi,Sora, and Ganapatya sects.Amomg these sects ,Siwa Sidhanta was the dominant sect in Bali ( Ardhana 1989:56 )

Every sect had their own prime goddess and considered that their gods was higher than the others.This fanatic faith created conflict that had the potential of blowing-up at anytime.King Udayana tried to reduce the conflict by inviting the religious leaders from both Java and Bali,who then held a summit conference of all the religious leaders which took place at Pura Penataran Temple.To commemorate that summit meeting,the temples was then named Samuan Tiga .

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Gift for Gods, Ancestors, and Demons

Gift for Gods, Ancestors, and Demons
The many unseen inhabitants of Bali – gods, ancestors, and demons – are treated by the Balinese as honored guests through the daily presentation of offerings (banten ) of every imaginable  shape, color ,and substance . These are first and foremost  gifts expressing gratitude to benevolent spirits ,and placating mischievous demons to prevent them from disturbing the harmony of life.
Simple offerings are presented daily as a matter of course, while more elaborate ones are specially produced for specific ritual. After the daily food is prepared , for example, tiny packets are presented to the resident gods of the household before  the family eats. Every day , too ,the spirits are presented with tiny canang  ,palm leaf trays containing flowers and betel as a token of hospitality.
Being gifts to higher beings , these offerings  must be attractive ,and great deals of time and effort is expended to make them so. Leaves are laboriously cut ,plaited and pinned together into decorative shapes ( jejaitan ) .Multi-colored rice flour cookies ( jajan ) are modeled into tine sculptures and even into entire scenes ,which have a deep symbolic significance quite apart from their decorative function. In many ways , therefore  , the production of offerings may be regarded as an important traditional art form that still flourishes on Bali

Materials and preparation
Aside from a few durable element employed , such as coins cloth and an occasional wooden mask, offerings  are generally fashioned of perishable , organic materials. Not only the materials , but be used again and similar ones must be produced again and again every day .
The preparation of offerings is one the many tasks undertaken by every Balinese woman.Within the household , women of several generations work together , and in this way knowledge and skill are handed down to the young . To a limited extent , men also cooperate ; it is their task to slaughter animals and prepare most meat offerings.
Many women in Bali even make a living by acting as offering specialists ( tukang banten ). Their main task is to direct the armies of people who collectively produce offerings for large rituals at home or in the communal temple. They are able to coordinate this work because they know the type and ingredients of offerings required for each accasion.
As more and more Balinese women work outside the home in office or tourist hotels ,they have less time to undertake elaborate ritual preparations .This result in an increasing demand for ready –made offerings that many tukang banten produce in their own home , in spite of this commercialization , the meaning and ritual use of offerings is not diminishing in Bali.

Ritual Uses
For almost any ritual ,the enormous number and variety of offerings required is quite astounding. There are literally hundreds of different kinds ,the names ,forms sizes ,and ingredients of which differ greatly .There is also considerable variation from region to region, and even from village to village .The basic form of most offerings is quite similar ,however .Rice , fruits ,cookies , meat , and vegetables are arranged on a palm leaf base  and crowned  with a palm leaf decoration called a sampian ,which serves also as  a container for betel and flowers.

Certain offerings are used in many rituals ,whereas others are specific to a particular ceremony . Basic offerings form groups ( soroh ) around a core offering ,and since most rituals can be performed with varying degrees of elaboration ,depending upon the occasion and the means and social status of the participants ,the size and content of these  offering groups vary also according to the elaborateness of the ritual.
The size of an offering may be scaled up or down to match the occasion. For example ,an ordinary pulagembal contains ,among other things ,dozens of different rice dough figures in a palm leaf basket. In more elaborate rituals , this becomes spectacular construction of brightly colored cookies ,measuring several meters from top to bottom.
Besides  the major communal offerings associated with a particular ritual , each family brings its own large and colorful offering to a temple festival. It is a spectacular sight when women of a neighborhood together carry offerings in procession to a temple.
At the temple , offerings are placed according to their destination and function .Offerings to gods and ancestors are placed on high altars ,whereas  demons receive theirs on the ground .An important differences is that offerings to demons may contains raw meat ,while those for the gods and ancestors may not. Specific offering required for ritual are placed in a pavilion temporary platform .
During the ceremony ,a priest purifies the offerings by sprinkling them with holy water and intoning prayers  or mantras .The smoke of incense then wafts the essence of the offerings to their intended destination . The daily presentation of offerings at home takes place in a similar way, through the use of holy water and fire .After the ritual is over and their “essence “ has been consumed  , the offerings may be taken home and eaten my the worshippers.

The elements that make life on earth possible are transformed into offerings and thus returned as gifts to their original Creator . But an offerings not only consists of the fruits of the earth ,but also mirrors its essential structure ; decorative motifs often symbolize the various constituents of the Balinese universe . The colors and numbers of flowers and other ingredients refer  to deities who guard the cardinal direction . The requisite betel on top of every offerings symbolizes the Hindu Trinity  , as do the three basic colors used : red for Brahma ,Black or Green for Wisnu ,and White for Siva.
Conical shape , whether of offerings as a whole  or of the rice used  in it ,are models of the cosmic mountain  whose central axis links the underworld  , the middle world ,and the upper world  ,symbolic of cosmic totality and the source of life on earth .Rice dough cookies represent the contents of the world : plants , animals, people , building , or even little market scenes and gardens ,Pairs of such cookies ,like the sun and moon  ,the mountain and sea  ,the earth and sky  ,symbolize  the dual ordering of the cosmos in which complementary elements cannot exist without one another.
The unity of male and female ,necessary for the production of new life , is in many ways represented  in the composition of offerings . By recreating the universe through the art and medium of offerings  , the Balinese hope that the continuity of life on the earth will be assured.

By Francine Brinkgreve                     

Monday, August 12, 2019

History in a Balinese Looking Glass

Most of what is known about Bali’s traditional kingdoms comes from the Balinese themselves. Scores of masked dance dramas, family chronicles , and temple rituals focus on great figures and events of the past. In such accounts , the broad outline of Bali’s history from the 12th to be 18th centuries is an epic tale of the coming of great men to power . These were the royal and priestly founders of glorious dynasties some proud – who together with their retainers and family members determined he fate of Bali’s kingdoms , as well as shaping the situation and status of the island’s present – day inhabitants.
It is possible to see the Balinese as both indifferent to history and yet utterly obsessed by it. Indifferent because they are not very interested in the “ what happened and why “ of professional historians,while  at the same time they are obsessed by stories concerning their own illustrious ancestors.
Balinese “history” is in fact a set of stories that explain how their  extended families came to be where they are. Such stories may explain ,for example , how certain ancestors moved from an ancient court center to a remote village ,or how they were originally of aristocratic stock although their descendants no longer possess princely titles .In short , they provide evidence of a continuing connection between the world of the ancestors and present-day Bali.
Major events are thus invariably seen in terms of the actions of great men ( and accasionally women ) ,yet  to view them as mere individuals is deceptive .They are divine ancestors , and as such their actions embody the fate of entire groups .Above all ,they are responsible for having created the society found on Bali Bali today.
Each family possess its own genealogy that somehow fits into the overall picture . Some focus on kings , their followers or priests as key ancestors . Other see the family history in term of village leaders , blacksmiths ( power, as makers of weapons and tools ) or villagers  who resisted and escape  the advance of new rulers.
The fact that such stories sometimes agree  with one another should not necessarily be taken as proof that this is what really happened. There are many gaps loose  ends and inconsistencies , often pointing to the fact that generations of priests , princes and scribes have recast these tales about the past to serve their own ends .The sagas must be retold ,nevertheless ,in order to know what is open to dispute.

Monday, August 5, 2019

The Pitra Yadnya Rites for Ancestors

Life ,death ,rebirth ,This cyclical conception of existence lies at the very heart of Balinese Hinduism .During each life on earth the eternal soul occupies a temporary vessel – the physical body – which at death must be returned  to the pancamahabhuta , the five elemental substances : solid ,liquid , radiance ,energy ,and ether . Only then can be the soul be released and reincarnated . Of all Balinese rituals , the cremation ( pengabenan,palebon ) is the most complex ,lasting for many days  and culminating with the spectacular burning of not only the corpse but of vast quantities of valuable ritual object especially created for the occasion.

Calling the soul
Due to the huge amount of time and expense involved,acreamation is usually postponed for months or even years .In the meantime the body of the deceased is temporarily buried . Family members first wash and groom the corpse ,then wrap it in cloths and mats .A raw egg is rolled across it and smashed  to the ground , removing all impurities . The body is then transported to the cemetery on a simple bier and buried  without a casket.
Once a favorable day has been set ,an army of ritual specialist ,artists ,priest ,family members ,friend ,and neighbors of all ages and sexes is mobilized ,calling upon an encyclopedia of communal knowledge in the creation of offering of every imaginable shape ,color ,and ingredient and the performance of a series of elaborate rites.
Before cremation a “ soul calling “ ritual must be held at the grave .Offering are made, and as the corpse cannot be returned to the house once it has  been buried  , the soul is taken home in a sangah urip effigy containing soil from the grape. Outside the house a paper and coconut shell lamp – a damar kurung – is hung to guide the soul home.
The washing of the corpse is symbolically repeated on an edegan , a small board  with a human figure drawn on it .The day before the cremation , a priest prays for favorable treatment of the soul in the afterlife. Various types of holy water are made and offering are purified . The angenan , an eggshell lamp mounted on a decorated coconut ,serves as a memorial.

On the day of the cremation ,once the sub has passed the zenith ,loud gong music is played and a lively procession starts the journey  to the cemetery . Dozens of offerings and ritual objects lead the way , and the body is carried  in  a colorful tower ( wadah , bade )  fashioned of wood ,bamboo ,and  paper  ,shouldered by scores of shouting men . Platforms at the base  represent  the earth  ,sometimes  resting on the cosmic turtle  and serpents  of the underworld .On the back of the tower may be a winged and fanged face of the son of the earth ,and higher up a goose symbolizing purity.
Above these platforms is an open space for the body , and crowning the tower is an odd number of roofs representing the heavens . The caste and clan of the deceased determine the number  : 11 for royalty , less for persons of humble birth . Attached to the front of the tower is a long  , white cloth ( lantaran ) held by family members to represent their ties to the deceased . The tower is rotated at each crossroad to disorient and prevent  the soul from returning to disturb the living.

Release through fire and water
Arriving at the cemetery  , the body is taken down and a pair of birds set free ,symbolic of the soul’s release . On a bamboo platform under a high roof stands a wooden sarcophagus ( called a patulangan or palinggih ) decorated  with cloth and paper  , sometimes carried  in procession ahead  of the tower  . The sarcophagus is generally in the shape of a mythical animal such as a bull or winged lion.
The sarcophagus is opened and the body or newly exhumed remains ( sometimes simple an effigy ) are carried around  it and placed inside . The shroud is opened ; jars of holy water are poured over  the body  and shattered  . Cloths , letters of introduction the the gods , and effigies are piled inside ,and the sarcophagus is closed . Offerings are placed  below to start the fire ,and the sarcophagus and corpse are consumed by flames .The tower is burned separately.
Death brings with it the opportunity to fulfill all duties toward the deceased ,and there is no public display of mourning if the deceased has lived a long and full life . Weeping near a corpse disturb the soul ,making it unwilling to leave . Grief is expressed in private , however  ,especially if a young person has died prematurely as the result of serious illness or a tragic accident.

Purification and deification
When the corpse has finally been reduced to ashes ,the flames are doused and the family hunts for bone fragments ,forming them into a small human shape . The bones  are pulverized  and placed in an effigy made from coconut  , which is taken on a bier to the sea or river  and cast into the water . Three days later  another ceremony removes the ritual pollution brought by death upon the living.
Twelve days after the cremation , the soul of the deceased is purified in a ngrorasin rite ,often accompanied by rituals ( mukur , nyekah , ngasti , maligia ) designed to deity the ancestor  A sekah effigy is made for the soul and placed in a high pavilion . In the evening , family members pray  and offer  their respect . Early the next morning , the image is broken  and burned  , and the ashes  placed in a decorated coconut . A tower ( bukur ,Madhya ) then transports them to the sea for disposal.
Finally , in the nyegara –gunung ceremony .the family expresses thanks to the gods of the oceans and the mountains . Offering are brought to important sea and mountain temples often including Besakih , after which the deified soul is enshrined in a clan of family temples as a protective ancestral

By Garret Kam