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by on Friday, 6 April 2007No Comment | 1,931 views

Pilgrimage, especially to the temple is an indispensable part of Balinese culture and religion. There is an indescribable joy in every Balinese face when they head to the temple especial a far off temple. It is always chance of a life time since death comes at anytime, and we never know whether this pilgrimage will be the last or not.


There are several kinds of temple pilgrimage that are executed by the Balinese. The most common pilgrimage is “maaturan”, a pilgrimage to pay homage to a temple when there is an odalan (temple anniversary) is held. For a big island-wide temple such as Besakih or Batukaru, hundreds thousands of pilgrimages with beautiful offering will flock to the temple to show their gratitude and deliver silent prayers to the god. When a great ceremony such as Bhatara Turun Kabeh (Gods descend all together) or Panca Wali Krama is held in Besakih temple, all Balinese is required to come at least each family is supposed to send a representative if the entire family cannot make it.


In every large ceremony, a ritual pilgrimage called mapintonan is required as a part of the ritual. The word is used differently in different areas of Bali, but in south Bali it refers to a trip to some rather distant temples to obtain holy water. A mapintonan pilgrimage may involve several hundred people, all whom pile into buses or trucks rented for this occasion, on expeditions to far off temples as Besakih, Pura Lempuyang Luhur, or Pura Perancak. Lunches are packed, and a picnic atmosphere combines with the religious purposes of the trip.


Another important pilgrimage is Nyegara-Gunung, translated literally into “going to the sea and mountain”. This pilgrimage is held as a part of Nyekah ceremony, a ceremony dedicated to purify and deify the spirit of a deceased after a cremation ceremony, so the spirit can be resided in the household shrine. The nyegara-gunung pilgrimage involves all the family members and relatives of the deceased. A special effigy for the soul of the deceased called sekah is carried by the family members during the journey. The first destination is usually the Goa Lawah temple that is located near the beach. Here the effigy is given a special holy water, and a set of offering is presented to the God in that temple.


Then the journey continues to the Pura Dalem Puri that is located near Besakih temple complex. This sacred is considered as a place where the spirit of the deceased person is detained and given punishment and reward based on it deeds in his or her lifetime. Here the family of the deceased request to the God to release the soul of the deceased so it can be brought back home. Offerings are presented to please the God that resides in this temple and to “bail” the spirit out.

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