Monday, May 27, 2013

Balinese temples

Temples in Bali appear predominantly Hindu.  As such they are uniquely different to temples I have seen so far.  Full of stone carving, statues and brickwork. They remind me more of the ancient village in Thailand than any of the temples we saw while there.  Not surprising really given that Thai temples tended to be Buddhist.

The thing that intrigues me with Bali temples is the sheer number of them.  They are literally everywhere.  Look on any map and the most evident mark is a temple site.  Most private dwellings also seem to have them.  Houses generally appear to be situated behind high brickwork fences, with tall stone doorways as entry points.  The more elaborately carved and decorated the entry way, the more wealth of the family living within.  

Once you enter the doorway the "house" is usually made up of a number of "pods" - each used for a distinct purpose.  Kitchen separate to food preparation, separate to sitting area, separate to sleeping.  Each complex has a separate temple area also.  Many businesses have a temple pillar installed out the front, for those that don't, it seems a small banana leaf receptacle, filled with rice and flowers will suffice.  These are often placed directly onto the footpath adjacent to the gutter.The idea then is to cleanse the tribute with water or smoke and pray. Women and men can both be seen doing this.

We visited one traditional home which our driver took us to.  While it was interesting to see the kitchen still functioning, with fire, but no electric light - and the well with its cover out the back.  Being chased out to the car and asked for a "donation" was off putting.  With "grandpa" in his wheelchair eating his lunch it hadn't seemed appropriate to intrude with the camera so I had taken no photos, walking respectfully around the compound and then leaving.  For me, being hunted down for a payment was an uncomfortable way to do business.  I much preferred the situation in Chiang Mai, where when we visited a tribal village area, we paid up front, but then were free to interact and take photographs without being harangued.


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