Types of Balinese Temples
Thousands of temples that scattered all over the island of Bali are not just built for a single purpose. The function of a temple can be determined by the characteristics of the temple that totally depend on the bond that bind the temple congregations to the temple. The bond may be a social, political, economical, or genealogical bond.
The social bond can be in the form of territorial bond, and teacher – student bond. The political bond is created base on the need of the king to unite his people and territory. The economical bond is created based on the similarity of the profession, for example farmer, trader, fisherman, etc. Genealogical bond is established based on kinship or clan.
Based on aforementioned bonds, temple in Bali can be categorized into four groups:
Public temple has general function as the holy place to venerate God with all His manifestations. Public temple is worshiped by all devotees of Hindu in Bali. Temples that can be categorized into this group are Besakih, the mother temple of Bali; Sad Kahyangan, six main temples of Bali; and Caturlokapala, four great temple of the world (world means Bali).
Other temples that can be categorized into this type are Dang Kahyangan, or temples of religious teacher. These temples are used to commemorate the feats and the teachings of great religious teachers. Temples that fall into Dang Kahyangan group are Rambut Siwi, Perancak, Pulaki, Silayukti, Lempuyang Madya, etc.
State temples that are used to unite the people and the territories of a kingdom also belong to the Public Temple Group. Every kingdom in Bali has at least three state temples in its territory, one in the capital city of the kingdom (Penataran Temple), one on the mountain (Puncak Temple) and one near the beach (Segara Temple). Temples that are considered state temple are Taman Ayun, Sakenan, Kehen, etc.
Territorial Temple is a place to worship God and local deities for the local community or village. Territorial temple is an exclusive temple, only the inhabitant of the territory or the village may worship there. The best example of this group is Kahyangan Tiga, or a set village temple (usually consist of three temple Pura Puseh (temple of origin), Pura Desa or Pura Bale Agung, and Pura Dalem (temple of death). Every village in Bali has its respective Kahyangan Tiga. The Kahyangan Tiga is considered as a binder of all village residents and gives them a sense of identity since only the residents of the village may pay homage and pray on the Kahyangan Tiga of that village.
Functional temple can also be called Temple of Profession. The temple is used to worship God and His manifestation as the protectors of a respective profession. The congregations of this type of temple are always come from the same profession. For example Melanting temple is worshipped by the traders and entrepreneurs, Ulun Suwi, Ulun Carik, Ulun Danu, and Masceti temple is worshipped by the farmers.
The word “kawitan” can be translated into English as “point of origin.” Kawitan temple is a place to worship the deified ancestors. Only the descendants of the deified ancestors that reside in that temple may worship and pray in there. each family has its own family temple and each group of some blood-related families or clan has its own panti or pedharman temple as a place to worship the deified ancestor.