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Rules for Visiting Balinese Temples, Spiritual Priests & Ceremonies

Being respectful of the customs of Bali will make the Gods (and locals) happier to see you!

***this is copied from a pamphlet that was given to me***

For tourist and visitors coming to Bali for Quiet Day, the following is an enlightening description of the festivities surrounding Quiet Day including the Ogoh-ogoh Parade, Tawur Kedanga, Nyepi, ceremonial dress and general rules of observance.

The Hindu Dharma, the religious belief system of Bali, governs all activities of Balinese daily life. Working, sleeping, eating, praying, dancing, and all other activities are part of, and governed by, the Dharma.

This short introduction will hopefully serve as a guide to visitors in understanding the essence of Balinese life and customs and to help those who wish to witness and participate in some of our religious ceremonies, large or small.

Some visitors seem to forget that (as in their own societies), religious ceremonies are not commercial performances staged for the please of the tourist, but are a very important part of the daily life of the community.

As the ceremonies in Bali display spectacular and colorful scenes, they have become a great attraction for visitors who, when they do not understand the procedures, may unwittingly become intrusive, leading to misunderstandings for the Balinese and Visitors alike.

At times, outsiders are not permitted to attend ceremonies. Visitors are asked to respect these occasions where the presence of outsiders may disturb the ritual activities. A warm welcome will be extended to those who wish to participate.

The following contains short outlines of the different kinds of ceremonies performed in Bali, and some information outlining the basic tenets of the Hindu Dharma. It contains suggestions as to where to go, how to dress and behave, and how to experience ceremonial activities in Bali.

TEMPLE ANNIVERSARY

A temple anniversary occurs every 210 days (6 Balinese months of 35 days each), alternating between a “big” ceremony of 4 days and a “small” ceremony of 1 to 2 days, although the preparations for the ceremony usually starts weeks earlier.

The Pura Desa is one of the “Kahyangan Tiga” in the Village of Ubud (three major temples in each village of Bali).

Pura Puseh – Temple for the God Wisnu, the Preserver.
Pura Desa – Temple for the God Brahma, the Creator.
Pura Dalem – Temple for the God Shiva, the Destroyer and his consort Durga.

The significance of this special ceremony is to harmonize the three worlds in accordance with Bali Hindu belief. These worlds are:

Bhur – level of the lower beings
Bwah – level of the humans
Swah – level of the Gods

Although it is the village community of Desa Adat Ubud that cares for and worships at the Pura Desa Ubud, the ceremonies are open to all who wish to attend and who are prepared to follow the rules of dress and behavior of the established tradition.

It might be useful for visitors to know that what is generally called Ubud is actually a collection of 13 villages (Desa Adat): Ubud Kelod, Ubud Tengah, Ubud Kaja, Sambahan, Bentuyung, Junjungan, Tegalantang, Taman Kaja, Taman Kelod, Padang Tegal Kaja, Padang Tegal Tengah, Padangtegal Kelod, Padangtegal Mekar Sari. Each of which have three major temples.

ACTIVITIES OF INTEREST DURING THE ANNIVERSARY

Procession from the temple grounds of Pura Desa Ubud, Pra Batur Sari, Pura Puseh carrying the seats of the Gods, and the holy Barong accompanied by gamelan by truck to Purnama Beach – Sukawati. To symbolically discard what is spiritually unclean and Tirta (holy Water) will be collected by the Pedanda Siwa (Siwa High Priest) to be carried back to the Pra Desa Ubud.

Procession from the temple grounds Pura Desa Kutuh, carrying the seats of the Gods, and accompanied by gamelan to the Pura Desa Ubud to join the main ceremony which will be presided overt by a Pedanda Siwa, culminating in the communal praying session attended by all the members of Desa Adat Ubud and Desa Adat Kutuh later.

After the communal prayer, sacred dances will be performed in the Community Hall (Bale Wantilan)

Rejang Dewa
Baris Gede
Topeng Wali (Mask Dance)
Wayang Lemah (Shadow Puppet)
Tari Lepas (Binaremaga Group)

In the evening, blessing of the offerings by the Pemangku (Temple Priest) and general praying. Visitors who wish to join the praying are welcome. After prayers, the following will be performed original temple dances at Bale Wantilan (Community Hall). Later the following will be performed: original temple dances at Bale Wantilan (Community Hall).

On the last evening of the ceremony the symbols of the Gods will be taken down and carried in procession around the temple by the members of the Pura Dalem Ubud followed by communal prayer once the symbols have been replaced in their shrines.

After early morning communal prayer and blessing of the offerings the symbols of the Gods will be carried back in procession to their home temples (Pura Desa, Pura Batur Sari, Pra Puseh, and Pura Desa Kutuh).

DRESS

It is imperative that correct traditional Balinese dress be worn when attending ceremonies, this is not a quirk of the Balinese to make you look foolish, but rather, the various elements of dress have specific meaning, and desire for you to conform to customs maintains harmony.

TAWUR KEDANGA & OGOG-OGOH PARADE

The day before Nyepi (10am), these ceremonies take place at the main Ubud crossroads. In Bali, crossroads are places we consider tenget (highly charged in a supernatural way). In this ceremony, the people of Ubud gather together to pray and make offerings to appease the Gods and powers that abide in our community. This is an ancient tradition associated with Nyepi and the coming of the Balinese New Year. Tawur Kesanga ceremonies are held on this day throughout Indonesia, wherever there is a Hindu community, including Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Sumatra and Jakarta. By making offerings, sacrifices and prayers at this time, we are letting go of the past year, appeasing the powers that threaten the harmony of our community, and ready to welcome the New Year.

The main roads through Ubud will obviously be closed for a period of time during the ceremony around 5pm. We do many things to “scare off” bad influences, and what might be called bad spirits. You will see people making smoke and banging on pots and pans in their houses the day before Nyepi to scare off all bad things. Some people make firecrackers out of bamboo tubes, so the explosions will scare off evil influences. One of the biggest and most exciting ways we send evil away is the Ogoh-Ogoh (Giant Puppet) parade, in which representations of all kinds of troubling creatures are paraded through the town and villages of Padangtegal, Jalan Hanonman and Peliatan Village from Tebesaya to Jalan Raya Peliatan.

NYEPI QUIET DAY

Nyepi means “to observe silence”. It is a very holy day in Bali and is our celebration of the New Year in the Balinese Caka calendar. On the first day of the New Year we observe total silence, fasting and using no fires or electricity, we hide inside our homes for a whole day. This is an ancient custom which is still strictly observed here.

VISITORS ARE EXPECTED TO OBSERVE THE SILENCE OF NYEPI ALSO. THIS MEANS YOU MUST STAY INSIDE, SHINE NO LIGHTS, LIGHT NO FIRES AND MAKE NO NOISE from midnight on the day before until sunrise on the day after Nyepi. For many, many years visitors to Bali have respected this custom and many have found it a wonderful experience as well. We hope and expect that you will continue the tradition and in this way uphold the good relations between people of many faiths and customs here in Bali. It might help if you understand Nyepi a little better.

Nyepi represents a way to begin life anew, with the troubling and dark aspects of the past year put well behind us.

NYEPI RULES IN DESA ADAT UBUD

  • You must stay inside your home, homestay or hotel.
  • No lights, electricity, stoves, radios, stereos may be used.
  • No cooking or heating water.
  • No noise or music is to be heard.
  • No motors or vehicles may be used except in dire emergency.

NYEPI TIPS

  • If you want to eat on Nyepi, purchase or prepare meals, snacks and drinks the day before, then wrap it all up and save it for Nyepi. Your homestay, hotel or a local restaurant will be happy to provide you with all the packed food and drinks you like on the day before Nyepi.
  • Use the dark hours when you can’t shine lights to catch up on sleep!
  • Set aside some good reading material in your room ahead of time.
  • If you want to talk with people, do it inside and keep your voices low.
  • Don’t go walking around sightseeing please; there is nothing to see. All businesses and facilities will be closed.
  • Try meditating, or use the day to evaluate your life and changes you want to make.
  • Enjoy the rare experience of total peace and quiet.
  • No airplanes are allowed to land on the islands during Nyepi.
  • No television stations broadcast during Nyepi.

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copyright 2011-2016 Loxley Browne