Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Temple of the Holy Waters -- first day temple touring

Next on our itinerary was the Temple of Holy Waters. Since I do not have a guide book I cannot tell you the Balinese name for this temple. The name was far too long and had way too many syllables for me to remember it. The water temple is a very large temple. The grounds are lovely.

Lucky us, we arrived on a day of special celebration so there were thousands of people bringing offerings to the temple, as well as special dancing performances and pilgrims washing away their troubles in the holy waters. It was quite a sight and a bit overwhelming in the crowds. I especially enjoyed watching the small boys in their all-white headwraps and sarongs. The tiny little fellows were so adorable and tried to look so serious.

Most of the visitors had rice affixed to their foreheads. Some also affixed grains of rice to their temples, ear lobes or throats. I don’t remember the significance of the rice, but even the small children had rice on their foreheads.

The traditional clothing of the Balinese women is very beautiful; quite striking with their tight long skirts or sarongs with ultra-tight bodices beneath tight lace tops. The undergarments can be either strapless or with normal bra straps and back closures. But there is always a contrasting color sheer lace over-blouse that fits tight against the body with tight sleeves. These outfits do not look comfortable but they do look good.

The women use a little donut-type thing placed on top of their heads to cushion and hold very large bundles or bowls or baskets. It amazes me to watch these women with large bowls of fruit on tops of their heads while sitting sideways on the back of a motor scooter. That must require a lot of balance coordination. Same as when they walk up or down steep inclines with those big bowls or baskets atop their heads. The Balinese take these offerings to the temples and place them on an altar of sorts. They make their prayers and then take the offerings back home to eat. They believe that God takes the essence of the offering when they place it in the temple and that by eating the food (mostly fruits) that has been offered that they imbibe special grace from God. That is a nice thought and better than letting all that food rot in the temple. The offerings ranged from simple bowls of fruits to very elaborate designs in huge baskets. It is supposed to be the best that a family can afford.

Inside the temple grounds is a large pool surrounded by fancy carved stone walls. This is considered a very holy place and is where an underground spring surfaces. They have an intricate system connecting this pool to a lower area that has many carved stone heads of animals projecting from a wall. Water pours from these stone animal heads and falls into another pool. People desiring to wash away their troubles in life walk into this pool and place a small offering on a wall ledge. The water is about hip height on most of the people. They walk around and place their heads beneath the water gushing out of the stone animal heads. Most of the people started at one end of the long wall and went to each stone animal head to get dunked. But some of the people only went to specific stone animal heads to be washed on the head by one particular spirit for their particular problem or trouble. The accumulated water in the pool stays clean because it constantly drains to yet another pool where large goldfish are kept. The water continues to be gravity-fed down the hillside to several other pools and eventually to small streams running off into the jungle. All the water looked clear and clean because of the continual circulation.

We saw a special dance by group of young women. Only virgins are allowed to perform that dance.

Then we watched a dance by a group of pre-pubescent girls. They were all lined up and waiting to perform and you could tell some of them were nervous. But when the gate opened and they went to the stage area of the temple they did pretty good. It obviously was a big honor for them to perform this dance in the temple on such an important celebration day.

Friends took a photo of the two of us standing in front of the drum house in our temple sarongs.

Near the drum house we came across a group of teenage boys in fancy costumes. Bill tried to trade his Astros baseball cap for one of their costume head-dresses, but the boy good-naturedly declined to trade. There were also several giggling teenage girls sitting nearby and they weren’t willing to trade their head-gear for a baseball cap either.

For some reason I especially enjoyed watching the very small boys with their dads.

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