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Temple and Temple Feast

The temple is certainly the most important institution on the island and the clearest illustration of the spirit of the Balinese religion. There are temples everywhere, from the modest family shrines in every household, to the extravagant temples of the princes and great town temples; large or small, plain or richly carved temples found in the ricefields, in the cemeteries, in the markets, on the beaches, in caves, among the tangle of gnarled roots of old waringins, on deserted hill tops and even on the barren rocks along the coastline.

When we discovered that the Balinese did not seem to, mind in the least our going in and out of the temples, we started visiting them systematically, looking for unusual statues or reliefs, and although from the beginning we received the impression that there were not two temples exactly alike, we became aware that there were features common to all; unlike the forbidding, sombre temples of other,Oriental countries, the Balinese temple is a gay, open-air affair; one, two, or three open courtyards surrounded by a low wall, each court leading into the next through more or less elaborate stone gates, and with a number of empty sheds, pavilions, and shrines in varied styles, the majority covered with thatch, some with only one roof, others with as many as eleven superimposed roofs like pagodas.

There were no soot-blackened rooms filled with incense smoke for mysterious rites performed in front of great idols; as a matter of fact, there were no idols at all worshipped in any of the hundreds of Balinese temples we visited. In many there were ancient statues from former times, together with many shapeless stones kept as amulets by the community, which, because of their antiquity or because they were found in extraordinary circumstances, came to be regarded as gifts of the gods, or as their name (peturun) indicates, as heirlooms from their ancestors. The gods are invisible and impalpable and in all Bali there is not an image of a Hindu deity worshipped for the sake of its representation. Most often not even the priests in charge were aware of the names of the divinities represented.

Our interest in temples grew when we tried to understand the rules that dictated their intriguing design, but the first attempts left us only more confused than before. Explanations by the pemangkus, the temple-keepers, did not agree and the discrepancies were often greater than the points of agreement. With Spies I started into a more systematic search; we went into a temple, sought the pemangku, and drew a plan in which the names and purposes of each unit were indicated. Repetitions started to appear in many Plans, and when we had gathered many ground plans of various sorts of temples we traced the

common features in them. From those that appeared most frequently I set myself to the task of reconstructing one " ideal Balinese temple. Most typical was the temple with two courtyards, the outer court called djaban, " outside," and the other the dalam, the " inside." Entrance into the first court was gained through the tjandi bentar, the " split monument " or split gate (A. See plan), which was like the two halves of a solid tower cut clean through the middle. each half p shed apart to give access into the temple.

That the tjandi" bentar represented the two halves of a unit was obvious; in most of them each side was elaborately carved, often with the design also cut in two, as in a temple near Mengwi where half of a monstrous face adorned each side of the gate. Furthermore, the two inner sides were invariably left smooth, clean surfaces that shone by contrast with the elaborately carved rest of the temple. This we decided was an inviolable law until we found one tjandi" bentar in Pura Bangkung, in Sukasada, North Bali, with its inner sides carved. This exception, however, is not important, given the anarchy that prevails in North Balinese temples, and since there is no rule in Bali without its exception.

In the right-hand corner of the first courtyard, or outside the gate, is the high tower where bang the village drums (kulkul) . Inside the outer court are a number of simple sheds: a kitchen (paon) where the food for feasts is cooked, the bale gong, a shed for the orchestra, and another bale" used as rest-house by the people and for the making of offerings. The outer courtyard is generally devoid of ornamentation except for a number of decorative frangipani trees.

Another monumental gate, the padu raksa, leads into the second court, the temple proper. This gate is a massive structure identical in shape and design with the reunited halves of the tjandi bentar, but raised high above the ground on stone platforms, with a narrow entrance provided with wooden doors and reached by a flight of stone steps. On each side of the stairs is a statue of a fierce giant, two raksasas to guard the entrance. Directly behind the door is a stone wall (aling aling) covered with reliefs of demons. These are meant to keep evil influences from entering the temple.

All sorts of theories have been advanced as to the significance of these two gates, the most characteristic structures in the temples. It has been said that the tjandi bentar represents the two halves of the mountain Mahameru, which was split by Pasupati (Siva) in order to place each half in Bali, one as the Gunung Agung and the other as the Batur. A scholarly Balinese told me that it represents the two halves of a complete thing, the male at the right, the female at the left; or it is perhaps symbolical of the splitting of the material world to permit the entrance into the mystery with the physical body. Dr. Goris suggests as the origin of these gates the remainders of the old tjandis, the burial towers of the former kings, a logical explanation because of the cult of deified kings linked to the ancestor worship and, further, because of the identical shape of the Balinese temple gates and the old tjandis, a shape of temple gates which dates back to the most ancient of Javanese temples. The tjandi form appears throughout Balinese ritual as the symbol for the universe: a pyramid of receding platforms the foundation of the earth and the mountains - the intermediate space between heaven and earth, and the stratified -heavens, represented by the pagoda-like roofs (tumpang) , or by gradually decreasing stone mouldings.

The first courtyard is only an antechamber for the preparation of feasts and for other social purposes. It is in the inner court that are erected the altars and shrines that serve as rest-houses for the gods during their visits to this earth. The principle of orientation - the relation of the mountains to the sea, high and low, right and left - that constitutes the ever present Balinese Rose of the Winds (nawa sanggah), rules the orientation and distribution of the temple units. The principal altars and shrines are arranged in two rows on the honoured sides of the court: kadja, upward to the mountain, and kangin, to the right of this direction.

First in importance is the gedong pesimpangan, built in the middle of the kangin side, a masonry building closed by wooden doors dedicated to the focal deity, the. ancestor-founde'r of the community, often named after the village, as, for instance, in desa Dedap he is called Ratu' Dalam Dedapan. Inside there is often a stone phallus (1ingga) and, since the building can be locked, there the relics and heirlooms of the temple are also kept: ancient statues of stone wood or gold old bronze and so forth.

Most impressive are the merus, high pagodas of wood restin on stone platforms, always with an odd number of superimposed receding roofs (from three to eleven) made of thick layers idjuk, the everlasting and costly fibre of the sugar palm. These roofs are arranged along an open shaft through which the god are supposed to descend into the meru. The temple of Besakih the greatest in all Bali, on the slopes of the Gunung Agung consists practically of merus, and other important temples ha three, five, seven, or nine merus, but our typical temple has on built in the principal place, the centre of the kadja side of th courtyard. The meru is supposed to represent the great cosmic mountain Mahameru and is the seat of. the high Hindu god A curious feature of merus is the miniature iron implement" buried under the building, together with little gold and silver
roast chickens, lotus flowers, crabs, shrimps, and so forth. Again where the rafters of the uppermost roof meet, there is a vertical beam of sandalwood with a bole in which is deposited a smal covered Chinese bowl of porcelain containing nine pre
plates of various metals inscribed wistones or nine pripih magic words.

Never missing are two shrines for the great mountains: on for the Gunung Agung and other for the Batur or for the Batukau in the villages in its neighbourhood). They resemble little merus of one roof, also made of idjuk and endi in tall phallic points. Of great importance is the padmasa , the stone throne for the sun-god Surya, which stands

In variably in the uppermost right its back directed always towards the Gunung Agung. The form of the padmasana is again the representation of the cosmos. a wide platform shaped like the mythical turtle bedawang, wit two stone.serpents coiled around its body, rest three recedin platforms, the mountains, the whole surmounted by a stone chair with a high back. other shrines that are never missing are the little houses for ngrurah Alit and Ngrurah gede" , the secretaries " of the gods, who watch that the proper offerings are made, and.the stone niche for the Taksu, the interpreter of the deities. It is the Taksu' who enters the bodies of mediums when in a trance and speaks through them to make known the decisions of the gods to the people. There is still one more shrine, the Maspait (dedicated to the totemic gods of the settlers from Madjapahit, the " original deer " (medjangan seluang). This canbe recognized by a small sculpture of a deer's bead or by the stylization of antlers carved in wood. There are, besides, other pavilions; one in the middle of the temple which serves as a communal seat for the gods, the pepelik, or paruman, and the bale piasan, simple sheds for offerings.

This lengthy description is still far from complete and is limited to the main features of a would-be average temple, but unfortunately such typical temples could hardly be found in Bali. Despite the rules, practically every temple has curious contradictory individual features; besides, such is the variety of types of temples and so great the local differences, that only for the purpose of a general understanding of the spirit of Balinese temples can this " typical " temple be of use. To note down all the variants of Balinese temples would require a great volume.

Besides the family shrines, every Balinese " complete " community, a desa, should have at least the three reglementary temples: first a " naval " temple, pura puseh, the old First in importance is the gedong pesimpangan, built in the middle of the kangin side, a masonry building closed by wooden doors dedicated to the focal deity, the. ancestor-founde'r of the community, often named after the village, as, for instance, in desa Dedap he is called Ratu' Dalam Dedapan. Inside there is often a stone phallus (1ingga) and, since the building can be locked, there the relics and heirlooms of the temple are temple of the original community from which the village sprang; a second, pura desa, the town temple for official celebrations of the entire village, which, in case it has a bale agung, the old-fashioned assembly ball of the village Elders, receives the name of pura ba1e agung; and third, a pura dalam, the temple of the dead, built out in the cemetery, dedicated to the deities of death and cremation. It often happens that the pura puseh, despite its being the most important centre of worship, is located in another village or even in another district, because it was from there that came the settlers of the later village. In some places the pura pus6h and the pura desa are combined into one, with only a wall separating the two departments. There are still the private temples of the, princes; the royal temples (pura panataran) , and the pura dadia the private temple of origin of the family, the connecting link between & scattered branches of a common stock. Other important temples are the pura bedugul, the rice temple of each agricultural guild; the pura pamaksan, little temples of each village ward (bandiar), from which the pura puseh evolves; hill temples (pura bukit) , sea temples on the beaches (pura segara) , temples for the deities of seed and markets (pura melanting), bathing-temples, temples in lakes., caves, springs, trees, and so forth.

Except for the old pemangku, the keeper and officiating priest of the temple, who can be seen there occasionally sweeping the yard, the temples are ordinarily deserted because the Balinese go into them only for public gatherings, festivals, and meetings. Pemangkus are simple people of the common class with oldfashioned manners, polite, good-natured, and with a charming modesty, who live near the temple and perform all of its duties, from sweeping it to invoking and impersonating the deities. The haughty Brahmanic priests, the pedandas, refer to them contemptuously as diero sapuh, " sweepers," but the pemangkus are the really active priests of the people's ritual and alone officiate at temple feasts, when the pedandas do not take an active part. Furthermore there are villages where the pedandas are even barred from the temple.

The office of the pemangku is often hereditary, but be may also be chosen by some mystic while inspired by the spirits. He dresses in all-white clothes with a characteristic coat with tight sleeves and wears his head-cloth in the old-style high crest. Pemangkus lead a normal routine life without great religious restrictions, attending to their personal affairs until the date for the feast of the temple approaches, when they will become the
centre of all activity.

Every temple celebrates its birthday (odalan) on the anniversary of its consecration, with a great feast that constitutes the principal social event for the entire community and in which everybody in the village takes part with equal enthusiasm.

For days before the temple feast of Kengetan, as typical as any, the men attended to the decorations of the temple, building the temporary bamboo altars, erecting awnings for entertainers, adorning the shrines with flags, pennants, and penyors, cooking the food for the feast, and dressing up the statues of the demons that guard the entrance with a skirt of chequered black and white cloth and a great red hibiscus bekind each ear. At the same time the women prepared the offerings and made lamaks. The pemangku was on duty from early morning to receive and bless the offerings that each woman brought. By afternoon a great crowd of people in festival dress had gathered and the dagangs had set up their food-stands. All day long the women arrived with offerings on their heads, walking like sailing ships, requiring the help of two other women to support the fifty pounds of fruit and flowers so that the bearer could come out from under the heavy load to deposit it on the special shed erected for the purpose.

The pemangku sat in front of the central god-house praying and ringing a bell, surrounded by the new arrivals, who sat in rows behind him after leaving their offerings, the men crosslegged, with bared beads, behind the kneeling women. They prayed (mabakti) three times, taking a flower between the middle fingers of their joined bands, bringing it to their foreheads, and flinging it-in the direction of the shrine. The women sang wangesari songs in chorus while the pemangku and his assistant went around the praying people pouring holy water with long-handled ladles into their outstretched bands, drinking it with reverence, and wiping their wet hands in their hair. Serious babies in silks and gold necklaces also kneeled, repeating every gesture of their elders. Outside the temple the crowd gathered, listening to the stately music of the gong or watching a show. Sometimes the men staged cockfights (also a part of the ritual) or flirted with the vendors.

In a quiet corner an old pemangku proceeded to imbue with the spirits of the local deities the temple artjas, a pair of beautifully carved little statues, male and female, of painted and gilt sandalwood. They were usually locked into the central shrine,, wrapped in many cloths and kept in a special basket, but they were taken out on the day of their feast and made " alive." While an old man chanted the ancient song Sinom Surakarta, the old Pemangku recited a special prayer of invitation to lure the deities to occupy the artjas so that in this more tangible form they would preside over the feast in their honour, be taken out in procession, and in general serve as a point of sight towards which the ceremony was directed.

The gamelan angklung played outside the temple while the people began to form for the great procession to take the gods for a symbolical bath (melis or makies) to the nearest big river. The march started, beaded by many bearers of flags, pennants, and spears, followed by a long line of girls, their torsos wrapped." in silk scarfs of vellow, green, and magenta, marching in single,' file with the offerings and pots of holy water on their heads. Then came the little statuettes of the gods, decorated for the occasion with' fresh flowers, carried on cushions on the beads of a group of picked girls and shaded by three-staged umbrellas of state. Older women followed, also carrying offerings, and the procession was closed by the group of men and the orchestra, which played an obstinate marching rhythm on the gongs. The correct thing would have been to take the gods to the seashore, but Kengetan was far inland and there it was customary to go to the river for melis.

In Denpasar, on the occasion of the great feast of the temple Taman Badung, from a height I saw a great procession over a mile long, a fact verified by the mileage posts on the road, a fantastic spectacle in the late afternoon sun, preceded by hundreds of fluttering flags and tall pennants, white umbrellas, and spears, moving slowly towards the sea to the accompaniment of gongs. On arrival at the beach in Kuta, after a walk of five miles, the artjas received offerings, the priests prayed towards them, and the people sang songs of praise and danced mendet to entertain the gods, returning at dusk to continue the feast through the night.

In Kengetan it was already dark when the procession returned to the temple, its arrival greeted with exploding firecrackers and clattering kulkuls, while the orchestras played furiously all at the same time. The parade stopped at the temple gate in front of the pemangku, who waited, seated in front of a mat spread with offerings. He proceeded to welcome the artjas, once more addressing a prayer to them, ringing his bell, and offering rice, money, eggs, and wine, decapitating a little chicken to spill the blood on the ground. In that instant an old woman attendant stiffened and-became possessed, followed by the pemangku, who also, fell into a trance. They both danced like somnambulists, the woman with closed eyes, the pemangku staring wildly and holding an incense brazier in his bands, in this manner leading the carriers of the artjas into the temple.

Inside, they stood in the middle of the lamplit court, and the gamelan played a dance theme; elderly women began to dance a solemn mendet (or gabor), one holding a bottle with a carved spout, another with a piece of banana leaf folded like a spoon containing arak (rice brandy), a third performing intricate steps balancing miraculously on her bead a brazier filled with glowing coals. They danced back and forth from one end of the court to the artjas, each time pouring holy water and arak on the ground in front of 'the deities. At intervals a group of young girls walked forthwith silver platters containing offerings and deposited little trays of palm-leaf with food and flowers (tjanan) , samples from the large offerings, on the floor, while the pemangku fanned their essence in the direction of the gods. play.

Throughout the night mediums went into a trance and became possessed by the spirits of the djero taksu', the " interpreter " of the deities, in order to inform the people if the offerings had been well received and to obtain advice from the gods. The medium was the pemangku himself, going into convulsions, rolling his eyes, and foaming at the mouth as the spirit of the Taksu" entered his body, making incoherent guttural sounds which were taken as the voice of the spirit. Once I saw a pemangku become possessed by the spirit of some- sort of tiger, growling and running on all fours in the temple yard under exploding firecrackers, picking up fire with his hands and eating the sparks. The medium came out of the trance painfully, and in an epileptic fit, as the spirit left his body. Gradually be calmed down, got up exhausted, and was helped out of the temple. The crowd remained divided, watching the performances or talking in groups outside the temple, not much interested in the ceremonies or in the spectacular trances. Often, especially at the feasts of the death temples, they performed savage kris dances, which will be described later.

In Kengetan the gong played all night the stately, ancient music, and as dawn approached the old pemangku moved around quietly supervising things, putting out the lights and preparing for the final ceremony, the adoration of the rising sun, when mendet was danced again by middle-aged women and offerings were dedicated in the direction of the first rays of sun that appeared on the horizon. This ended the feast, and by morning, when the essence of the offerings had been consumed by the gods, the women came to collect their respective offerings and take them home.

Such is the general pattern along which a temple feast moves, but, again, each community has its own way of doing things and. no two feasts are carried out in exactly the same manner. Differences are particularly striking in the villages of the mountains, as in Paksabali and Bugbug, two communities in East Bali,where they stage wild battles of the gods, the artjas, which are placed inside baskets wrapped in polen cloth and topped with bunches of leaves. The baskets are firmly attached to bamboo
stretchers carried by half-naked men who rush at full speed against others carrying " rival " deities, trying to knock each other down. A crowd armed with spears joins in the free-for-all while firecrackers explode, and everybody yells, pushes, and tramples everyone else. The excitement is followed by an equally mad kris dance.



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