The Hinduism influences Ubud life for thousand years. Ubud is noted as one of the more traditional towns in terms of maintaining the teachings and various observances of Hindu religion in Bali. Everywhere you look, every single day, you will see ceremony, ritual and sacred offerings. All of this is carried out in Ubud with a level of devotion and careful attention that is rarely exceeded elsewhere. This applies equally to the young generation as it does to their parents and grandparents.
To witness (or participate in) the enactment of religious tradition, visit a temple during a holy day or on its anniversary, called and odalan. Your hotel, guest house, or your Balinese friends can tell you when and where an opportunity might arise. Consult the Bali Calendar to check dates of major festivals. You can’t go more than a few metres in Ubud without seeing one hanging on someone’s wall. Or let Balinese friends and acquaintances know you would be interested to attend a life-transition ritual (three-month birthday of a baby, tooth filing, wedding, cremation, etc.). Chances are, if you stay more than a few days you will have the opportunity to witness such an event.
The main temples in Ubud are the location for a tremendous variety of festivals, special prayers and observances of particular holy days. Following is a list of the some of the main temples and the dates of their odalans, beginning with the three main temples which are requisite to any Balinese desa.
Pura Desa Ubud
The main “town temple” in the centre, across from Ary’s Warung.
The “temple of origin” devoted to Ubud’s honoured ancestors. In Jalan Suweta.
Pura Dalem Ubud
The temple for the dark side of things. On the north side of Jalan Raya before the road descends to Campuan.
Pura Pamerajan Sari Agung
The private family temple of the Ubud royal family. On the east side of Jalan Suweta, a little north of the Palace.
Pura Taman Saraswati
Part of the Puri Saraswati complex, devoted to Dewi Saraswati the goddess of learning, literature and the arts, Features a fine padmasana (lotus throne). Beyond the lotus pond in the back of Cafe Lotus.
Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal
Another temple for the dark side, down by the monkey forest.
Pura Gunung Lebah
At the confluence of the east and west branches of the Wos River, below the Campuan bridge.
Pura Batur Sari
A royal temple devoted to the deity of Mt Batur, ostensibly to spare the Ubud Tjokordas the long journey up to the mountain itself. During its odalan, the dance stage is set up in front of the temple, right in the middle of Jalan Suweta, a few hundred metres north of Ubud’s main cross-roads.
Before entering any temples or attending religious ceremony, it would be better if you know the etiquette and dress code. If you don’t, try to find a Balinese friend or hotel employee who will take you to a ceremony, and advise you throughout about what is taking place, and how you can appreciate and participate in the ceremony without making a faux pas.
Balinese temples are not places where people gather for daily worship, so they are generally very quiet when there is no particular ceremony going on. Visitors are welcome to enter temples to look around and take pictures almost anytime. Nonetheless, appropriate temple dress and behaviour are still necessary. If there isn’t a ceremony in progress, dress requirements are a little more lax.
All you need is a sarong, sash and a modest shirt (with sleeves, not low-cut). If you forgot to bring a sarong and sash, at many temples you will find them on sale just outside. As for behaviour, just remember you are in a sacred place, climbing up on statues and shrines is definitely not OK.
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