Hindu Temple Ceremony in Bali
The word “Odalan” is believed to have come from the root word “Wedal” and one of its meanings is “birth”. “Odalan” is to use to describe a religious ceremony commonly held to mark the birth of a temple.
This is usually the day when the temple buildings are blessed for the first time, or the day where Balinese Hindus commences to bring offerings and pray in the temple. Temple festival may come once in 210 days following the “Wuku” calendar, Bali kind of calendar, thus a semi-annual celebration, or they may be an annual ceremony if they follow the lunar calendar.
The later usually falls on the full moon (Purnama) and the most favorite full-moon-days are those in the fourth month in the Balinese system known as “Purnama Kapat”, full moon of the fifth “Purnama Kelima”, and the tenth “Purnama Kadasa”. The opposite, the new-moon-days “Tilem” is not usually chosen for a temple festival.
The religious celebration of a temple lasts at least one full day with some temples celebrating for three days while the celebration of Besakih, the Mother Temple, is never less than 7 days and most of the time it last for 11 days, depending on the importance of the occasion.
The celebration is very colorful.
The shrines are dressed with pieces of cloths and sometimes painted brocade; slangs, decorations of carved wood and sometimes painted with gold and Chinese coins, very beautifully arranged, are hung in the four corners of the shrines. In front of the shrines are placed red, white or black umbrellas depending which Gods are worshipped in the shrines. In front of important shrines one sees, besides these umbrellas spears, tridents and other weapons, the “umbul-umbul”, long flags, all these are prerogatives or attributes of Holiness.
In front of the temple gate people put up “penjor”, long bamboo poles, decorated beautifully with ornaments of young coconut leaves, rice and other products of the land. These “penjors” give the place a very festive look. Most beautiful to see are the girls in their colorful attire, carrying offerings, arrangements of all kind of fruits and colored cakes, to the temple.
Every visitor admires the grace with which they carry their load on their heads. The offerings in some areas are high as the carriers. These offerings are put in front of the shrines where the owners want to worship. A priest officiates and after he has recited his prayers he sprinkles holy water on the offerings and the people, blessing them in this way.
For the people the ceremony is over and they carry their offerings back home and have feast later. Only a small tray with petals of flowers is left behind.
There are thousands of temple in Bali consisting of public temples, the family shrines and the “functional” temples such as those devoted to the goddess of trade, the rice goddess, and each of them has an Odalan festival, so practically speaking, there isn’t any day free from Odalan or ceremonies of the like, on the Bali Island. If you want to witness one of those interesting odalans, you we can arrange the itinerary for you to see temple festival or Odalan.