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People and Processions in a Balinese Temple Ceremony

January 26, 2017 by Khiri Travel | Filed Under: , , , , , , , ,

In October, Herman, Wiwi and Chelly from Khiri Travel Indonesia in Bali were invited to join in a unique temple ceremony, purification ritual and colorful procession in northern Bali.

Balinese temple ceremonies occur every so often from daily to weekly, as well as on 15-day, 30-day yearly or multi-year repeating cycle. Visitors to Bali can recognize common daily ceremonies that take the form of tha canang, a small basket with offerings that is placed in front of every house, hotel, office and shop.

Balinese People in Procession

Your clients may also encounter other temple ceremonies coincidentally during their visit to Bali. Every village or clan has their own calendar for these festivities, many of which involve a photo friendly procession of people walking with their offerings to the temple.

We were lucky enough to not only witness, but also participate in the Ngemedalang Ratu Hyang temple ceremony, which takes places every five years. It was a great honor and unique chance to experience this ancient culture from the inside. This ceremony describes the act of taking a mysterious inscription from a holy river to one of the village temples and then to the ocean for purification before bringing it back to the river again.

Ceremony Superstitions and Spells

An ancient Bali king made this inscription, but nobody knows exactly when and what exactly was written. However, this inscription was cursed by a fearful spell and needs to remain closed. If opened, people believe the curse could impact the whole country. Dutch scientists and the Indonesian government have even tried to read the inscription and were unable to. Thus, there is a need to perform a purification ceremony with this ominous inscription on a regular five-year cycle to protect everyone against this terrible curse.

One day prior to the purification temple ceremony, four children are chosen to stay in isolation in the temple where they prepare to carry the inscription from the river to the temple and back again. During their stay, holy priests will guard, feed and train these children for this honorary task.

The Journey to the Sea

On the day of purification, every clan of Bulian will follow these young people on foot from the temple to the north coast of Bali. The clans of Bulian and people of the surrounding villages are united by belonging to the same kingdom in ancient times. There are thousands of people with the men dressed in white and the women dressed in yellow making the journey from their villages to the sea. The procession is about 25 km to the sea and back.

Each clan also carries a symbol for the holy spirits of their temple to the sea for purification. Besides the people of the villages, there are Balinese political, cultural and religious leaders that attend this important temple ceremony.

For more information on where and how to experience an authentic Balinese temple ceremony or other culturally rich tours of Bali, please contact to [email protected]

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