Indonesia • Bali • The island of the Spirits

Get inspired by Tirta Empul temple, a traditional house and a cremation on Denpasar beach in Bali in Indonesia.

This film was made on the basis of photos and videos taken during the trip Indonesia • Sumatra, Java and Bali (EN)

vimeo chapterA click on this icon above displays the list of chapters of this film about Bali in Indonesia. A click on a dot goes directly to a chapter.

Reading the text below will help you better understand the cultural context of the images in this video.
Chapters: 

00:37 • Tirta Empul temple

03:30 • the gods in the rice field

06:12 • a traditional house in Bali

07:56 • Denpasar

10:01 • a cremation on the beach

Indonesia

Indonesia is a huge archipelago made up of some 13,000 islands, of which just under 1,000 are inhabited.

Among these islands, there are very large ones, like Sumatra and Borneo, of which only a part (Kalimantan) is part of Indonesia. Some are very populated like Java and most are Muslim, making Indonesia the largest Muslim country in the world.

Bali

One exception, however. A small island between Java and Lombok, Bali. Small island in size but with a high population density (690 inhabitants per square kilometer). Bali is now 94% Hindu, while most of the other islands have opted for a monotheistic religion in the past.

Religion in Bali

The history of religions in Indonesia is quite complex. In fact the kingdoms which were installed on the Indonesian territory were in great majority animist and a certain number of them knew a Hinduist and Buddhist influence since the end of the first millennium. The Balinese do not claim to be Hinduists, but claim to be the descendants of the kingdom of Majapahit, a kingdom installed on Java and Bali from the 13th century. Majapahit is one of the last Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms in the archipelago.

The conversion to a monotheistic religion was encouraged by the Dutch of the VOC (Dutch East India Company) all over the archipelago.

Bali,only Hinduist island of Indonesia

Bali is the only island to have kept its religious traditions prior to colonization. One of the explanations could be the fact that the distribution of land there was more equitable and therefore that the population had relatively few untouchables, low on the caste scale in Hinduism. There was therefore no good sociological reason to put an end to the caste system, and therefore to Hinduism which is based on this division of society.

Hinduist, but...

History has made Bali a very original island. Not really Hindu, since it has retained Buddhist influences, Bali has never completely turned its back on animism. This mixture of influences explains the very particular culture of Bali, beyond the "postcard" island for tourists.

This explains the very original architecture and the omnipresence of spirits in the life of the Balinese.

Temples

Each house has its own temple, more or less large according to the lifestyle of the occupants. But each village also has its 3 temples, dedicated respectively to Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. With of course a host of grimacing spirits, a legacy of animism.

Funerals

Funeral ceremonies are also typical and impressive. The deceased are buried at the time of their death and large cremation ceremonies are organized months later, after exhumation (months or years, it depends on the financial means of the families and the time needed to collect the funds to pay for the feast of cremation).

This film shows, among other things, a traditional cremation on a beach in Denpasar.

Denpasar, the capital of Bali may well be a city very well equipped for tourists, but the Balinese soul remains very present there.

Tirta Empul Temple, built in the 10th century is one of Bali's many religious sites. Some images of this temple are also shown in this film.

 

About the 3 places in this film

 

Denpasar is the capital of Bali and also the most populous city on the island with its 900,000 inhabitants. Along with the development of tourism, Bali has also encouraged and promoted economic activities and supported its businesses, which has given it solid growth in recent years.

Tirta Empul temple located near Tampaksiring in Bali is a Hindu temple. It has a source which allows the faithful to do the important ritual baths for Hindus.

The temple is millennial since it was built around 962 AD. The temple is dedicated to Vishnu.

 

In one of the villages of Sukawati district we visited a traditional Balinese house. Each room is in fact a separate building in a courtyard where nothing is missing, and especially not the traditional temple so dear to the wealthy Balinese.

Bali, Indonesia

What's the weather like in Denpasar?

 Spoken comments in the film: 

The Hindu temple Tirta Empul was built around a source around 960 AD.

If Bali has nine great main temples of which Tirta Empul is a part, each village has at least three in addition to the temples erected in each house.

The three temples of each village are each dedicated to a different deity, the first to Brahma (Pura Puseh), the second (Pura Desa) to Vishnu and the last to Shiva (Oyra Dalem).

The island deserves its nickname of Island of 10,000 temples.

Spirits are present and revered everywhere.

Temples are everywhere and spirits are omnipresent. They are not found only in temples dedicated to ceremonies, but even in rice fields and all aspects of daily life.

n Bali we do not think only of spirits ...

Tourists are also the object of all attentions and here for a few rupiahs one can afford unforgettable photos. After all, spirits only make souls live. For bodies, tourists' currencies are more effective.

The traditional houses of the well-to-do Balinese are arranged like temples, with a large place dedicated to gods and spirits. Each house has its own place of worship ...

A house is made up of various buildings scattered around a courtyard where everything recalls the presence of spirits.

Each room (kitchen, bedrooms ...) is a small building apart and the whole gives the impression of being in a small village rather than a family home.

The composition of the family is indicated on a plaque at the entrance to the residence.

But the gods aren't just in the countryside.

They are also everywhere in town.

 

Music:

 (Java)  - Flute and Gamelan of West Java - Mupu Kembang (Collecting Flowers), Tangent Records (TGS 137)

 (Bali)  - Musiques anciennes de Bali. "Semar Pegulingan. Gembuh" - Semar Pegulingan: Lagu Tabuhgari, Le Chant du Monde (LDX 74802)

 (Bali)  - Joged Bumbung - Ungkab Sabda, Ocora (558501)

Rice terraces (... fitted out for tourism), Denpasar • Indonesia • Bali
Rice terraces (... fitted out for tourism)
Gunun Kaqi Sebatu Temple, Denpasar • Indonesia • Bali
Gunun Kaqi Sebatu Temple
courtyard of a traditional Bali house, Denpasar • Indonesia • Bali
courtyard of a traditional Bali house
cremation on Denpasar beach, Denpasar • Indonesia • Bali
cremation on Denpasar beach

Bali - Denpasar, Sukawati, Tirta Empul Temple. Indonesia

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