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Balinese ceremony

Temple Festival of Bali

How a culture survive over centuries is the testament of humanity. A vibrant example of one such tradition is called Odalan, the village temple festival of Bali. For a outsider who stays here a little longer, it may come as a surprise that every few days a new person might talk about having the celebration of Odalan. To a mind that is stagnated by the concept of Christmas, Id & Diwali, it would be fair to assume that such tremendously prominent festivals should come once in a year. Not so for the festival of Odalan - It comes magically innumerable times, depending on the village, the number of temple and a unique way of counting its repetition. Here what wikipedia defines as the Odalan.

Bali tradition

(Source Courtesy : Wikipedia) An Odalan is a Balinese village temple festival in Indonesia. It is an occasion when the Hindu village community comes together, invite the gods to visit them for three or more days, perform religious services together offering refreshments and entertainment. It is a periodic event, one that celebrates Balinese Hindu heritage and performance arts. The Odalan celebrations are a social occasion among Indonesian Hindus, and have historically contributed to the rich tradition of theatre and Balinese dance forms. An Odalan marks the founding of a particular Hindu temple, and is celebrated on its birthday according to the Pawukon – the 210 day Balinese calendar. Since Bali has thousands of Hindu temples, with at least three in each village, several Odalan are celebrated in some part of Bali almost everyday of the Gregorian calendar. The celebration rituals are called Dewa Yadnya (Sanskrit: Deva Yajna), includes processions, decorations of the village temple, entertainment and dancing in the temple courtyard, the village community pools its resources and observes it together. The Odalan at a few large temples, such as the Pura Besakih - the biggest Hindu temple in Bali, has major cultural importance beyond its location. It is an island wide event, and therefore celebrated with major preparations once every 100 Balinese years.

What stands out during Odalan is the regality of the celebration, gold and white is mesmerising. Gold lighter counterpart in the shades of dry and semi-dry palm leaf baskets, which brims across with the tropical fruits (and few exotic also). As offerings at the temples to the gods. Bare-footed women walk along in luxurious brocades and kerawang, balancing the tall basket of offering over their head. Their chanting could be heard from miles. While gold and white are dominant at most festivals, it is not unlikely to see yellow, green, indigo and red. Whether its a family temple or village temple or the iconic landmarks, the concept of offering for bountiful received from the earth and sea is reciprocated with fervour and dedication. 

During the pandemic, as situation started getting a little breathier the celebration of Odalan happened as per the 210 days or Balinese Calendar and rotated with equal ease. If you are in Bali, do remember to visit one of the village and experience Odalan.

Photo courtsey: Ruben Hutabarat

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