About ROV


email Glenn

Goa Lawah Odalan

Balinese Odalan

The Odalan (or temple festival) is a quintessential Balinese experience.
It's also a frequent one. Every temple has an odalan on its' anniversary, which following the lunar calendar, occurs every 210 days. And there are an estimated 20,000 temples on Bali.
Do the math...

During an odalan, spirits descend from heaven and are entertained for three days with food, prayers, dances, cock fights, and other activities.

This odalan is at Goa Lawah, the Bat Cave. It's the temple that serves the god of the southeast. Offerings here will protect Bali from storms and other dangers that may come from this direction.

As in all religions, prayer is important in Balinese-Hinduism.
Hands pointed up indicates a prayer to the gods. Hands pointed down indicate a prayer to the demons. Hands pointed in the middle indicate a prayer for humans.

I once participated in Balinese prayer, at a remote temple. I messed up this fairly complex ritual, many times.
The Balinese, however, were patient with my mistakes, guiding me through the process without, I hope, offending any gods.

Prayer at Pura Tjampuan

bali_cere_20.tif (235166 bytes)
Placing an Offering

The Balinese universe is not polar, as in Good vs. Evil.

It is more like a see-saw, with Gods at one end, Demons at the other end, and Humans in the middle.

Balance is the goal. If humans are to remain in balance, then both gods and demons must be satisfied.
This satisfaction, in the form of offerings, dances, and beauty, occupies much of Balinese life.

In the Hindu epic, the Mahabarata, Krisha explains what God expects of an offering:

"Whosoever offers to me with devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or water,
that offering of love, of the pure heart I accept."

These are exactly what the Balinese present to their gods, and present with devotion, many times a day; on shrines, on car dashboards, even on the ground.
Watch your step!

bali_cere_04.tif (245104 bytes)
Balinese Priest

All the world loves a parade, and Bali is no exception.

There are few sights on earth that are as breathtaking as a procession of Balinese women going to temple.
This is the Bali of our dreams.

These offerings are taken to the temple, where the prayers, dances, and other activities will take place.
Some are offered to gods.
Some are offered to demons.
All are intended to keep the cosmos in balance.

Often the procession is joined by a Balinese orchestra, the gamelan.

The odalans are social events, often starting late at night, and running well into the morning. They are an opportunity for flirting, gossiping, and socializing.

Pleasing the Gods is a full time job. It doesn't just happen on Sunday. The Balinese sing for their gods, clean for their gods, make beautiful buildings for their gods. And they dress for the gods, as well.

Lace shirts. Silk belts.
Batik sarongs. Head-dress optional.

Fashion is of no importance to me. Too transitory.
Style, however, is important. And Balinese women have style (and even better, don't know it).

Style by example

My American-Heritage Dictionary defines style as:

A comfortable and elegant mode of existence.

By that measure, these ladies put the runway models of Paris to shame.