Bali Day 2: Ulun Danu Beratan Temple

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple is a postcard-perfect-looking water temple located on the shore of Lake Beratan, near Bedugul, 1,200 m above sea level. As it is located at a high altitude, it has a cool and invigorating climate. Lake Beratan is known as the Holy Mountain Lake due to the fertility of the area.

Ulun Danu Beratan Lake

Ulun Danu Beratan Lake

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple is a major Shivaite and water temple of Bali, built in 1633. This temple is used for offering ceremonies to Dewi Danu, the Balinese goddess of water, lake and river.

The main temple entrance

The main temple entrance, a large candi bentar

The temple was built on the shore of Lake Beratan due to the lake being a main source of water for irrigation in central Bali. An 11-storey pelinggih meru was dedicated to Shiva and his consort Parvathi.

The pagoda-like Pelinggih Meru shrine of Pura Ulun Danu Beratan is a distinctive feature of a Balinese temple.

The pagoda-like 11-storey Pelinggih Meru shrine of Pura Ulun Danu Beratan is a distinctive feature of a Balinese temple.

The Ulun Danu Beratan Temple is also featured on the 50,000-rupiah banknote. A definite icon of Bali, this place. 🙂

A part of the temple complex, at the edge of Lake Beratan

A part of the temple complex, at the edge of Lake Beratan, which is featured in postcards

There are several types of temple or pura in Bali. They each serve certain functions in Balinese rituals according to the Balinese calendar. The temples are arranged according to the physical and spiritual realm of Balinese people, from the mountain tops, which are the realms of gods, to the middle fertile plains, which are the realm of humans, and the beaches and oceans, which are the realm of sea deities and demons.

Beautiful carved ornamented atop one of the temple roofs

Beautiful carved ornamented atop one of the temple roofs

The various types of temples are as follows (source: Wikipedia & Indo.com):

  • Pura kahyangan jagad are built high up upon mountain or volcano slopes. The mountains are considered as the sacred realm, the abode of gods or hyang spirits.
  • Pura tirta are the water temples. Besides their religious function, they also serve a water management function as a part of the irrigation system. Pura Ulun Danu Beratan and Pura Taman Ayun (which I also visited) belong to this category.
  • Pura desa are located within villages or cities. They are dedicated to the worship of Brahma. They are used for the official celebrations of the village community.
  • Pura puseh are dedicated to the worship of Vishnu, and the ancestors of the village.
  • Pura dalem are dedicated to the worship of Shiva, and the place of cremation.
  • Pura mrajapati is dedicated to the worship of prajapati (the lord of people) or the cosmic might. Usually, Shiva is worshipped in his form as prajapati in this temple.
  • Pura segara are located by the sea to appease the sea deities. Pura Tanah Lot and Pura Uluwatu belong in this category. I visited both during this trip. 😀
A beautifully carved door

A beautifully carved door

Balinese temple architecture is significantly different from Indian Hindu temple architecture. Within each Balinese temple, there are some common distinctive features, which are the bale, meru, kulkul and shrines. The bale are pavilions in the courtyards, each with its own specific function. The meru is a multi-tiered structure, and it is usually dedicated to a god or goddess. The number of tiers must always be odd, and the highest number must not exceed 11, which symbolises the highest respect. The kulkul is a hollow log which functions is similar to that of a church bell. It is used to call the community to come to the temple. Lastly, each temple will have a number of shrines. Each shrine will be dedicated to a god or goddess. Women will present the offerings to them.

A decorative item made from dried leaves

A decorative item made from dried leaves hanging at one of the pavilions or bale

A part of the temple complex, at the edge of Lake Beratan

A part of the temple complex, at the edge of Lake Beratan

There are two types of temple gates in Balinese architecture. The first type is the candi bentar or split gate, and the second type is the paduraksa or kori agung, which is a roofed tower gate.

A candi bentar, or split gate, marks the entrance into a Balinese temple.

A candi bentar or split gate which separates two different compounds in the temple grounds

The two types of gates have different roles. Candi bentar is the gate used in the nista mandala, while the kori agung is used as the gate between the madya mandala and utama mandala inner compounds. These types of gates can also be used for non-religious compounds such as puri, nobles’ and kings’ residences.

 

A paduraksa or kori agung marks the entrance into the main sanctum of the temple

A paduraksa or kori agung marks the entrance into the main sanctum of the temple

A close-up shot of the intricate carvings on the door of the kori agung is shown below.

Beautifully carved and decorated doors

Beautifully carved and decorated doors

The Balinese temple or pura is designed as a place of worship in an open-air space within enclosed walls, unlike the typical Indian Hindu temple, which has an indoor worship space. The Balinese temple is divided into three mandala zones or compounds, arranged according to a hierarchy, and connected by a series of beautifully decorated gates (source: Wikipedia):

  1. Nista mandala (jaba pisan) is the outer zone. It is usually an open field or a garden that can be used for religious dance performances, or preparations during religious festivals. It directly connects the temple compound with the outer realm, and the entrance to the temple.
  2. Madya mandala (jaba tengah) is the middle zone of the temple. It is the area where pavilions, such as the bale kulkul (wooden slit drum tower), bale gong (gamelan pavilion), wantilan (meeting pavilion), bale pesandekan, and bale perantenan, the temple’s kitchen, are located. It is where the activity of adherents takes place, and also the location for supporting facilities of the temple.
  3. Utama mandala (jero) is the holiest and the most sacred zone within the pura. This enclosed and typically highest of the compounds usually contains a padmasana, the towering lotus throne of the highest god, Acintya (the Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa, or ‘All-in-one God’, in modern Balinese), the pelinggih meru (a multi-tiered tower-shrine), and several pavilions, such as bale pawedan (vedic chanting pavilion), bale piyasan, bale pepelik (offering pavilion), bale panggungan, bale murda, and gedong penyimpenan (storehouse of the temple’s relics).
The pagoda-like Pelinggih Meru shrine of Pura Ulun Danu Beratan is a distinctive feature of a Balinese temple.

The pagoda-like Pelinggih Meru within the Utama Mandala (jero) of Pura Ulun Danu Beratan

A part of the temple complex, at the edge of Lake Beratan

A part of the temple complex, at the edge of Lake Beratan

Buddha statue

Buddha statue

At the shore of the lake

At the shore of the lake

My father, Khor Seow Hooi, did a sketch at the temple

My father, Khor Seow Hooi, did a sketch at the temple

My father, Khor Seow Hooi, drew a watercolour painting of the Ulun Danu Beratan Temple. You can see it in a post on his blog about the paintings he produced in July to October 2016.

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple - website and contact info

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple – website and contact info

Eye-catching decorative item hung on a motorbike

Eye-catching decorative item hung on a motorbike

Other articles I wrote on Bali:
Bali Day 1: Uluwatu
Bali Day 1: Tari Kecak and Fire Dance

 

 

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Bali Day 1: Tari Kecak and Fire Dance

With the coming of sunset at Uluwatu, a crowd starts to gather at the open theatre near the temple or pura at the peak. It is time to find a good spot to sit, in order to view the highlight of the evening – the famous Tari Kecak and fire dance of Uluwatu.

Tarian Kecak Uluwatu

A prayer before the Tari Kecak starts

The exact origin and development of Tari Kecak is not known, but there is some agreement that it was a song or music produced by a series of sounds, combined to form a melody, used to accompany the sacred dance Sanghyang, and first developed into a performance in the village of Bona, Gianyar. Historically, Sanghyang could only be staged in a temple.

Tarian Kecak Uluwatu

The kecak ‘musicians’ enter the open theatre

In the 1930s, artists in Bona developed a kecak dance based on the Ramayana, focusing on the part of the story where the Goddess Sita was abducted by King Rahwana. This dance was eventually staged for the general public.

Tarian Kecak Uluwatu

The kecak ‘musicians’ form a circle around the centre of the theatre

By the 1970s, other villages had also developed their own tari kecak, and the dance groups congregate at kecak dance festivals.

Tarian Kecak Uluwatu

The kecak ‘musicians’ sit down

In tari kecak, the music is generated from a combination of ‘cak’ sounds from about 50-70 people in a cappella, which is choral music sung without accompaniment from musical instruments.

Tarian Kecak Uluwatu

The kecak ‘musicians’

A person will act as a leader who gives the leading tone early, while another person will be in charge of changing the tone to high or low. Someone else might act as a solo singer, while another will be in charge of delivering the story.

Tarian Kecak Uluwatu

The kecak ‘musicians’ making their music solely with their voices

The dancers in the kecak dance do not have to follow the beat of the accompanying ‘cak’ music strictly. Therefore, the dancers are more relaxed, because the main priority is the telling of the story and the choral sound mix.

Tarian Kecak Uluwatu

Tari kecak just started. The ‘musicians’ are doing their intro before the dancers appear

The story told by the tari kecak

The story from the Ramayana featured in the tari kecak goes like this:

Prince Rama, heir to the throne of the kingdom of Ayodya, and his wife Sita, were banished from the kingdom by King Dasarata. The story started with the arrival of Rama and Sita in the forest of Dandaka. They were accompanied by Rama’s brother, Laksmana.
Unbeknown to them, they were being observed by the demon Rahwana, King of Alengka, who wanted the beautiful Sita for himself.

Tarian Kecak Uluwatu

The heroine of the story, Goddess Sita

Rahwana sent his prime minister Marica to try to isolate Sita to enable Rahwana to kidnap her. With his magical power, Marica turned himself into a golden deer. When Sita saw the golden deer running in the forest, she was so enchanted by it that she asked Rama to capture it for her. Rama chased after the deer, leaving his brother Laksamana behind to protect Sita. Then, Sita thinks she hears a cry for help from Rama. She forced Laksamana to go after Rama by accusing him of cowardice. Reluctantly, he goes off after drawing a magic circle on the ground around Sita. He told her not to step outside the circle for her own safety.

Tarian Kecak Uluwatu

The story unfolds

Sita, left alone in the forest, becomes vulnerable. Rahwana disguised himself has an old priest, who was cold and hungry. He begged Sita for some food. Sita fell for his trick, and stepped outside the circle to give him some food. Rahwana kidnaps her and takes her to his palace. Back in his palace in Alengka, the demon Rahwana tried all kinds of tricks to seduce Sita without any luck.

Tarian Kecak Uluwatu

The demon Rahwana disguised himself as a beggar, and begged Sita for some food

In the palace of Alengka, Hanuman appears to Sita, telling her that he is Rama’s envoy and proved it to her by showing her Rama’s ring. Sita gives Hanuman a hairpin to show she was still alive and sent him back to Rama with a message to rescue her.

Tarian Kecak Uluwatu

the demon Rahwana, King of Alengka

Meanwhile, Rama and Laksamana are searching the forest for Sita when Meganada, Rahwana’s son, appeares and starts a fight with them.

Tarian Kecak Uluwatu

The Goddess Sita

The giant bird Garuda, king of all birds, a good friend of King Dasarata, observed Rama was in trouble from high up in the sky, and came to the rescue.

Tarian Kecak Uluwatu

A prayer before the fire dance starts

Rama and Laksamana continue on their way to rescue Sita. They are joined by the Monkey King and his monkey army.

Tarian Kecak Uluwatu

The sunset in all its glory

The story comes to a climax with the battle between the Monkey King and his monkey army, and Meganada and his demon Army, which ends with the defeat of Meganada.

Tarian Kecak Uluwatu

The Monkey King prepares for war

Tarian Kecak Uluwatu

The Monkey King doing the fire dance

Other articles I wrote on Bali:
Bali Day 1: Uluwatu
Bali Day 2: Ulun Danu Keberatan Temple

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Bali Day 1: Uluwatu

I went to Bali in September 2016. However, for this second trip, I brought my parents and brother with me. Bali is one of my favourite places, and I was sure they would like it there too.

Since we touched down in the afternoon, Kadek brought us to the Uluwatu temple complex, because then we could stay till sunset to watch the Tari Kecak, and it was all good. Tari Kecak will be featured in my next blog post. 😉

I took over 600 photos over three days, and here are some of the photos I finally selected from our visit to Uluwatu.

Uluwatu

My favourite photo of Uluwatu 🙂

Uluwatu is such a breathtakingly beautiful place that I just could not stop taking photos. There was a pathway all along the cliff, linking the various temples in the complex, and I walked a long stretch of it. Since our visit coincided with Galungan, the temple complex had more visitors than usual, and was beautifully decorated.

Uluwatu

Up the pathway to the peak in the Uluwatu templex complex

There is a signboard outside the temple complex that says visitors should keep their spectables and other shiny objects such as mobile phones hidden, because the monkeys will steal them. This warning should not be taken lightly. I was wearing my specs while walking near a place where people engaging in ceremonies walked down a tiny steep flight of stairs down the cliff to the beach below. There were a few monkeys there, and one particularly big and fat male just walked towards me on the stone wall and grabbed my specs off my face! There was a large group of caucasians there. Although they were not speaking in English among themselves, they understood me, and started to throw food items at the monkey perched on the wall, until he threw my specs into the bushes behind the wall. Thankfully, my specs were not broken, and I thanked all the people who helped me retrieve it.

Uluwatu

Down the pathway, all along the cliff of Uluwatu

Our trip to Bali conincided with Galungan, which celebrates the victory of dharma over adharma. The festival period stretches over a 10-day period, where a series of Hindu religious ceremonies are performed. Galungan is considered to be a very important festival in Hindu Bali. To read more about the series of Hindu ceremonies performed during Galungan, visit the Galungan ceremonies page of Wonderful Bali.

At Uluwatu temple complex

At Uluwatu temple complex

The specific ceremonial days of the festival start with Tumpek Uduh and end with Tumpek Kuningan. Here is the list of specific ceremonies of Galungan:

  1. Tumpek Uduh
  2. Sugian Pengenten
  3. Sugian Jawa
  4. Sugian Bali
  5. Penyekeban
  6. Penyajaan Galungan
  7. Penampahan Galungan
  8. Galungan Day
  9. Umanis Galungan
  10. Ulihan
  11. Pemacakan Agung
  12. Tumpek Kuningan
Galungan at Uluwatu temple complex

Galungan or penjor kuningan at Uluwatu temple complex

The most obvious sign of the Galungan festival are the penjor – bamboo poles with offerings suspended at the end. These penjor are installed along roads, and at the entrances to temples. Penjor are also called galungan.

Galungan at Uluwatu temple complex

Galungan or penjor kuningan at Uluwatu temple complex

Preparations start at Tumpek Uduh, which is 25 days before Galungan Day, at the Saturday of the 7th week of the Balinese Pawukon calendar, Wariga. Thus, the total length of the ceremony period of Galungan is actually 35 days. This is equivalent to 5 weeks, which is one Balinese month.

Elephant statue at Uluwatu temple complex

Elephant statue at Uluwatu temple complex

There are often two Galungan celebrations per solar year. The Galungan dates for 2015-2017 (as listed in Wikipedia) are as follows:

2015 July 15 July 25
2016 February 10 February 20
2016 September 7 September 17
2017 April 5 April 15
2017 November 1 November 11
Uluwatu

A Caucasian couple dressed in traditional Balinese garb on their way to participate in a ceremony in Uluwatu

To see more 2016-2017 events in Bali, visit Bali Spirit.

Other articles I wrote on Bali:
Bali Day 1: Tari Kecak and Fire Dance
Bali Day 2: Ulun Danu Keberatan Temple

 

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Rain

For #MYWriters weekly poetry prompt last week (26 October 2016), the challenge was to write a haiku inspired by the word ‘tear’. I wrote a haiku about rain, which are the ‘tears from heaven’.

IMG_2242a

Rain

Tears fall from the sky
Blessing the earth with rebirth
Life is thus renewed

Khor Hui Min
26 Oct 2016

 

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On the Back of a Motorbike

I’m excited to announce that a new Southeast Asian anthology entitled On the Back of a Motorbike will be out of the printing press soon. As you might have guessed already, all the stories and poems in the book are supposed to contain the phrase ‘on the back of a motorbike’.

My poem The Vendors is featured in the book. 😀  The Vendors is about my fond childhood memories of vendors selling food, such as the bread man, ice cream man, etc. going from residential area to residential area. If you are wondering – yes, it certainly has that phrase in it. 😉

The cover looks like this:

Cover.jpg

You know, I’ve seen quite a number of people sporting T-shirts with the slogan ‘Same Same But Different’ over the years. 😉

 

On the Back of a Motorbike is in the process of printing, and the electronic version will be uploaded in a few days’ time. I’ll share the link when it is available. So, keep an eye on this page for updates.  🙂

The book is published by Literary Concept, which is helmed by Kris Williamson. Click here to visit their Facebook page.

 

 

 

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Get up with the lark

For RonovanWrites #Weekly #Haiku #Poetry Prompt #Challenge #117, the word prompts were ‘lark’ and ‘rush’. These words made me think about my new routine of going to sleep before midnight (10.30pm to 11.30pm to be exact), so that I could get up early in the morning to make tea or coffee, and a healthy breakfast. Today, I started the day with nice hot cinnamon tea to wake up the digestive system, followed by a bowl of natural unsweetened yogurt with banana, raw almonds, raw walnuts and chia seeds. All in time to go to work at 7.00am. So getting up early with the lark is good, indeed.

Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Get up with the lark

Get up with the lark
Enjoy the sunrise; brew tea
Take your time; don’t rush

Khor Hui Min
4 Oct 2016

 

 

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Dreams of home

It has been 2 weeks since I wrote some poems for my blog, I think. It’s about time to get back to my poetry writing every week. 🙂  I took my parents and brother to Bali for a family holiday last weekend, and the beautiful Balinese landscape and greenery has inspired me to come back to write anew. 😀

For RonovanWrites #Weekly #Haiku #Poetry Prompt #Challenge #116, the word prompts are ‘home’ and ‘leaves’. I wrote a haiku about the little garden in my parents’ front yard that is overflowing with all kinds of plants.

flowersa

 

Dreams of Home

Dreams of home sweet home
Where leaves flutter in the wind
And flowers glitter

Khor Hui Min
27 September 2016

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Parched Land

Today’s poetry topic is about the dreaded environmental condition known as drought. It plagues many parts of the world, and leaves lands barren and cracked. I wrote a series of three haikus on it.

drought

Dry ground in the Sonoran Desert, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Tomas Castelazo (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikipedia Commons

Parched Land

I

Our thirsty cracked earth
Imploring the blue heavens
For drops of rebirth

II

Abundant river
From clear to brown; at last dust
Parched land in despair

III

Global climate change
Flood today; drought tomorrow
Future uncertain

Khor Hui Min
26 July 2016

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Fairy song

For RonovanWrites #Weekly #Haiku #Poetry Prompt #Challenge #106, the word prompts are ‘sing’ and ‘flower’. I thought of forests, and streams, fairies and flower meadows – the enchanted world of our imagination. 🙂

 

Fairy song

Flowers in my hair
Singing in the dew-drenched dawn
Summertime so fair

Khor Hui Min
19 July 2016

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Light and Dark

For July 2016 week 3 of #‎MYWritersPoetryPrompt‬, there were two word prompts, ‘light’ and ‘dark’. I wrote about the co-existence of light and dark, good and evil. This poem is not about the triumph of good over evil, but about how their co-existence makes each appear as they are perceived in the present day – light being the good, and dark being the evil.

IMG_4576a

 

Light and Dark

What is light without dark?
What is dark without light?

The light makes the dark
Look dim and dastardly

The dark makes the light
Look bright and beautiful

One without the other
Will lose its power and influence

They are pitted against each other
But each needs the other to thrive

An odd co-existence through the ages
But persists still due to necessity

Khor Hui Min
23 June 2016

 

 

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