Palasari: A Tranquil Catholic Outpost in the Sea of Hindu
The feeling of tranquility and peacefulness are the first impressions that captivate the heart of the visitor upon entering the village of Palasari. Palasari is a catholic outpost in the sea of Hindu, situated in the heart of Jembrana regency and surrounded by the forest and coconut plantations. Palasari can be reached with three hours drive from Denpasar, around 120 km.
The history has it; the first Catholic missionary arrived in Bali on Easter Day 1936 and in a short period converted a number of people in Tuka, a village, which is about 10 kilometers north of Denpasar.
The first Catholic church established in this village, the head of the Tuka Church at that time was Father Simon Buis. In 1940, he requested from the Dutch administration and Bali’s Board of Kings and was granted a plot of land in the lush forest of Pangkung Sente in Jembrana for his congregation to live since their was no place for the congregation in Denpasar at that time. In September 1940 Father Buis and his followers moved to the forest and settled in a village, now known as Palasari from the nutmeg trees that surround the village at that time. The word “palasari” is derived from the word “pala” means “nutmeg” and the word “sari” means “essence”.
Nowadays Palasari is the largest Catholic community in Bali with 1,400 congregants with rows of neat and clean houses on the sides of the main road. The number of the congregants would be even greater if a large part of it had not gone to Lampung province in Sumatra and Umaha in Sulawesi as part of the Government’s transmigration policy.
The hallmark of this Catholic village is none other than the Sacred Heart (Hati Kudus) Catholic Church. Designed by Father Ignatius A.M. de Vriese, who was assisted by two Balinese architects, Ida Bagus Tugur from Denpasar and I Gusti Nyoman Rai from Dalung, Kuta. It was started in 1954 and finished on 13 December 1958. the church architecture is an amalgamation of Gothic and Balinese traditional architecture, symbolizing the harmonious relation of Hindu and Catholic in Bali.
However, the harmony is not just expressed as far as architecture the Catholics in this area have used Hindu paraphernalia, which has caused some resentment among the Hindu Balinese. They use penjors and other temple decorations and dress in Balinese formal costume during Christian festivals and mass.
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