A small temple in the garden of a Balinese house bali's prayer temples

The Shadow Behind Bali’s Temples

Temples. They are temples everywhere here in Ubud and across Bali. From the garden of your hotels to EVERY street corner.

But what is the shadow of some of the Balinese temples?

And, every morning, Bali’s people will meditate and put flowers as offerings in those temples, and in front of their houses. As this ritual is performed by everyone, you walk in Bali with the delicious perfume of the flowers, transporting to that spiritual mode, tourists will soon take for granted. But what is sometimes hidden behind the small temples in the Balinese houses?

I. We all have an ego.

Bali have it’s own religion, a mix of 3 different cultures who merged together. But it comes close to Hindu for most people. Most of the giant temples that you can access are not always a souvenir from the past of the population. Every house HAS TO have a temple (if not more than one). Meanwhile, no matter how wise you are, your neighbor may not.  And may fancy a bigger temple than you, to show his devotion to his god.

Also, his neighbour can play the competition too! And no matter how many of those giants temples you already find everywhere in Ubud. Be aware that many Balinese will work to have a better one than their neighbour. And better material. Also from a better artist sculpting statues.

II. A sad result

Very often, they get into debt for the temple(s) they have built. And when an unfortunate event happens to them; a husband being sick, their mother dying, or simply a job loss they find themselves in the street. Because of the bank, risking to lose everything. And begging for money to tourists who still struggle to understand the value of the currency in Indonesia. (10 cents is 2000 Indonesian Rupiah)
Those beggers, mostly women with kids, are often the shadow of the ambition they had: to have a better temple than the neighbour or brother.

It is not a very humble story, just another example that even the most spiritual city will always be held by humans feelings: greedy, jealous, ambition…

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temples temple on the water bali
Pura Ulum Danu Bratan Temples

III. A little touch.

Our apartment has two small temples: both at the extremities of the large garden. On my first day exploring the garden, I heard construction work on the side. I climbed a few stones of the temple, to feed my curiosity and I saw a new complex at the beginning of its construction! But I clearly could see, that the neighbour’s back garden had a temple nearly finished. I had an ironic smile to see that this temple was bigger, with gold colour and sculpted stones.

Still, visit the temples tourist are allowed to! There are some stunning ones! Find here the 10 best temples to visit. (from a neighbouring website)

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tanah lot temple. Man wondering in front of a temple surrounded by the sea.
Temple in the sea, Tanah Lot

Please note this is my opinion, from many echoes I heard from local Balineses. Some agree with this, other don’t. And who are we, to judge a culture? Please share your experience below. 🙂
And if you liked our article, you will like “12 things to do in Amed Bali“, and “What are the Galungan and Kuningan Balinese Celebrations?“, a celebration as big as Xmas for Bali.

Finally, don’t forget to follow us on your favorite social media platform: Facebook for the stories to share to friends and Family, Instagram for the best pictures, and Pinterest to pin your dreams!


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