Tjampuhan Temple Celebration, Ubud, Bali

by on June 18, 2008


Perusing my photos for yesterday’s tree post….I was reminded of a video I took in November 2007 in Bali.   Nothing to do with Europe but a nice little diversion.  And since we’ve been seeing so many churches…well it is related in that way…to religion or spiritual practicies.  I’m sure you’ll find it very interesting.

Slice and I have been going to Bali for 10 years now and we have been very lucky to witness many interesting cultural or spiritual events.

On one of our early visits a member of the Royal family was cremated.  A once-in-60-years event.  When we arrived at our favourite place, Ubud, the whole village was and had been for 2 months preparing for this cremation.  I think that was our very first visit to Bali so it was very exciting. 

The people of Bali are primarily of the Hindu faith.  And before the arrival of Hinduism they were already animistic ..spiritual beliefs featuring the souls of animals and nature. They didn’t abandon their existing spiritual and cultural traditions but instead these were integrated with the Hindu traditions that were introduced to them at that time (we’re talking between 800 to 1000 years ago…as I recall).  The form of Hinduism that developed in Bali is quite unique. It is said that it remains an ancient form that has not evolved in the way that other Hindu communities have because Bali is a small island. This served to isolate them from progressive influences.

For that whole week of final preparations leading up to the cremation (in 1998), there were celebrations all about the town including temple music and dancing and the locals kept saying “You must come and watch!”.   It was indeed a very interesting spectacle.  Just outside the palace…in the center of Ubud…they built this huge bamboo tower which contained one or two huge Hindu deities…like Nandi the Bull.  These were made of what looks like a kind of paper mache and they were big and tall.   On the day, the body and some of the dead’s belongings are placed on one of the shelfs of the tower and different villages…the men…take turns carrying the tower from the palace to the cremation ground.  And as they carry the tower, they run…about 20 or 30 men… in a circle to twist the tower around and around as they go toward the cremation ground. This is believed to help to confuse the evial spirits on the way to the cremation ground.  the spirit of the dead lift off…so to speak…to a new life   The cremation is a transition to the next stage of existence….reincarnation being a feature of Hinduism.

We felt very privileged and lucky to witness that cremation.  Unfortunately…I do not have any photos that I can post of the event. That was before the advent of digital cameras so all of those photos are in a book in a box somewhere in Sydney.

But! I have these videos that I took in November 2007 during a temple “revival” ceremony for the Tjampuhan Temple.  They do this twice a year…and it is a 3 or 4 day affair.   This is the first time we’ve witnessed this event.  We didn’t quite get the whole story but let me put it this way: Life in Bali centers around “the temple”.  Every village has one or shares a temple with another village.  Everyone spends a lot of their money in relation to temple ceremonies and all are responsible for contributing in some way to the maintenance of the temple…either giving money or performing certain tasks…painting, carving, gardening.     The women make or buy offerings in the form of little cakes and decorations that are made from bamboo and reeds and flowers.  They all wear very special colorful temple dress.   Here are some women on the way to the temple carrying baskets full of offerings on their heads.


So when it is time for the revival of the temple, elaborate temple celebrations go on for days and nights!  We could hear the music coming from the temple all night long.   The staff of our hotel (The Tjampuhan Hotel) were all dressed in their temple wear and taking turns to attend temple events.

So here are two videos…one right in front of our hotel…the people are on their way to or from the temple…as always the quality of the video deteriorates when uploaded and I didn’t quite have the hang of holding the camera video-steady.

This parade is to the Tjampuhan Temple. is a little better…


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