The Shadow Behind Bali’s Temples

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

And, every morning, Bali’s people will meditate and put flowers as offings 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 spiritual mode tourists soon take for granted.

Most of the giant temples that you can access are not a souvenir from the past of the population. Every house HAS TO have a temple (if not more than one), and no matter how wise you are, your neighbour may not, and will fancy a bigger temple than you, to show his devotion to his god.

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

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, losing 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…

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.

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