The Balinese take tiny toddlers, sometimes barely a year old, to major temple festivals to complete ‘Mapinton’ rituals — that is to ‘register’ with the temple’s gods; to open an ‘account’, as it were.
Last month, my nephew’s baby boy was taken to Pura Dalem Sakenan on Turtle Island so he could be blessed by the temple priest (see photo topleft).
The Barong Mogan was having its Mapinton, watched by the Barong of Medwi (soon to be a hotel’s name, you wait).
6th February 2012: A pray-in at my village temple on Pemacekan Agung holy-day, the day halfway between Galungan and Kuningan
I have avoided praying at my village temple for the last few years — in private protest against the temple community’s destruction of a heritage monument. The old temple, pulled down needlessly last year, had been built by the late, great architect Pedanda Made Sidemen in the Majapahit style and was considered one of his major works. It was a masterpiece of the red-brick style for which South Bali is famous.
When I first came to the village in 1973, this temple was rarely visited. Considered more important, was the Pura Dalem Kepala Temple, across the road and down a lane, the ancestor temple of the village prince. In those days my village was very much a feudal fiefdom where the hereditary prince was also the local mayor and his sons were the local romeos.
The influence of the princes has waned as peasant power has gained.
• • •
The next morning I drive past the temple on my way to work. Without the worshippers, the neon highlights and the cover of darkness the temple still looks like a big, dry pile of black stone. The picturesque garden of red-brick shrines and frangipani trees is gone forever, but, paradoxically, the temple community is more beautiful than ever.
29th February 2012: Voices on the Hindu Street