A Hindu Temple Procession, Ubud, Bali

 A Procession of Balinese Hindus from a temple festival, Ubud Indonesia

Hindu Procession
A Balinese temple procession is a noisy, colourful affair.

Religion permeates Balinese life.

According to Balinese Hinduism – Agama Hindu Dharma – the Gods, natural spirits and ancestral spirits all live on the volcanic mountains while the demons and bad spirits live in the sea. The land between is the humans’ domain, where good and bad spirits battle until eternity. All aspects of daily life try to keep these eternal battles at bay. Every village is built on the line between the mountains and sea, sunrise and sunset and even the main street goes from the mountain-side towards the sea-side. People make offerings on a daily basis to appease the demons, and to honour the Gods and ancestors: in their homes, in front of their shops, on crossroads, on cars, at shrines, and inside the many temples. 

There is only one supreme God in Balinese HinduismSanghyang Widi Wasa, but there are countless other Gods and lesser divinities, all of whom are manifestations of the One, and many of whom have special days at the local temples. There are thousands of temples on Bali, each celebrating the various deities, and also having a special “anniversary” celebration once a Balinese year – or once every 210 days.

So, you don’t have to be on Bali long before you come across one of the countless temple processions that are a part of festivals and observances.

When my husband and I arrived at our guesthouse in Ubud in January this year, there was a notice on the chalk board, alerting us to three days of special observances taking place at the Gunung Lebah Temple. We were able to catch a bit of the lively activity on the penultimate evening, and made a point of waiting for the procession out of the temple after the celebration ended the following day.

There was no shortage of colour, noise, and smiling faces.

Penatarang Agung Temple Gates, Ubud Bali

Temple Gates
Temples are everywhere in Bali: this one, across the road from where we were staying was all quiet; the festival was at another temple, a twenty minute walk down the road.

View over Pura Gunung Lebah Temple from the bridge, Ubud

Pura Gunung Lebah
The old temple we were looking for sits where the two branches of the Wos River meet to become the Sungai Cerik.

View over Pura Gunung Lebah Temple from the bridge, Ubud

Gunung Lebah Temple
This historic temple, named for the “small hill” – or gunung lebah – that it sits on, is normally very quiet.

People on the Stairs to Pura Gunung Temple, Bali

Stairs to the Temple
On festival days, however, …

People on the Stairs to Pura Gunung Temple, Bali

Carrying Offerings
… the temple is busy with people bringing in offerings …

Portrait of a man and his child, Pura Gunung Temple, Bali

Dad and his Boy-Child
… and going home with blessings. Everyone wears their best traditional clothes to temple: all the men and boys have their heads covered with an udeng.

Portrait of four young Balinese women in traditional dress, Ubud

The Girls
All the women, old and young, wear their kebaya; a blouse-dress combination that includes a lace or cotton top with a sash, worn over a sarong.

View over Pura Gunung Lebah after dark from the bridge, Ubud

Temple after Dark
Festival activities continue well into the night.

Another Temple - Another Gate

Another Temple – Another Gate
The next day, as we walk back down the hill to Pura Gunung Lebah, we pass yet another quiet temple – one we hadn’t even noticed the day before. The dvarapala – gate guardians – keep watch.

Motorcycles with pillion passengers in traditional dress, Ubud Bali

Transport to Temple
As we walk down the hill, locals make their way to temple to pay their respects.

Trays of offerings in a mossy wall shrine, Ubud, Bali

On the roadside, offerings – made only of organic, biodegradable materials – fill every nook and shrine.

Environmental Portrait: Balinese man and his young daughter, Ubud, Bali

Daddy and Daughter

Portrait: Balinese man and his young daughter, Ubud, Bali

Daddy and Daughter

Inside a Balinese Hindu Temple, Ubud

Inside a Temple
Continuing down the road, we peek into yet another quiet temple.

Balinese walking home from the Temple, Ubud

Home from the Temple
Finally! We can hear the noise in the distance, and worshippers start returning home.

Temple procession with flags and umbrellas, Ubud

Procession Home
The procession is a colourful affair, with ornate flags and umbrellas.

Balinese man and woman walking home from temple, Ubud

Walking Home
The official procession comes in waves, interspersed with pedestrians and normal road traffic.

Balinese boys running in a roadway, Ubud

Kids on the Run
Shopkeepers have put out tables of bottled water for people marching home in the heat; young boys race each other, making sure they don’t miss out.

Balinese man with a whistle, Ubud

Directing Traffic
A Balinese man makes sure the road is cleared before his group marches through. He’s wearing the sacred red (for Brahma), black (for Vishnu), and white (for Shiva), and carrying a kris (curved knife) at his belt.

Balinese men in procession with musical instruments, Ubud

Procession Band
The procession is noisy, with pipes …

Balinese men in procession with musical instruments, Ubud

Band in the Procession
… and cymbals and drums.

Balinese people seated at the side of a road, Ubud


Hanuman on a Wooden Litter in a temple procession, Ubud Bali

Hanuman on a Jempana
Hanuman, the divine monkey – a popular character in Balinese Hinduism – is carried through the streets on a gilded wooden litter.

Barong on a Wooden Litter in a temple procession, Ubud Bali

Barong on a Jempana
The Barong, a lion-like creature unique to the mythology of Bali, is the king of the good spirits.

Crowded Balinese street, Ubud

Once the procession has passed, the backed-up traffic resumes …

Scooters in an Ubud Street, Bali

Scooters in the Street
… and people make their way home.

For our part, we left the jangling noise of the procession behind us, and took to the quiet green of the neighbouring rice paddies.

Text: Happy TravelsMore of that some other time.

Until then,

Happy Travels!

Pictures: 28-29January2017

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