Travelogue: Up Close and Personal at a Hindu Festival

Balinese Adventure Part 27

During his 3 night stay at Swiss Belhotel Bay View , Michael Taylor can hear gongs, narration, and dialogue emanating from a nearby Hindu temple. On his 3rd night, he asks a security guard if he can show him the way. Will he?

A ramshackle Hindu temple at the rear of the Swiss Belhotel Bay View in Nusa Dua. Who would think that a lavish festival took place here the day before? Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

“I can’t walk with you any further,” says the security guard as we reach the entrance of a Hindu temple located near the employees entrance of the Swiss Belhotel Bay View , where I am spending 3 nights.

“You need to wear a sarong to enter the temple, and I’m not wearing one. But don’t worry. Go inside. They can speak English. Someone will explain to you what’s going on. Can you find your way back to the hotel?”

“I believe so,” I say. “Thank you so much.”

The temple, as it turns out, is much closer to the hotel than it appears to be when viewed from the hotel’s rooftop restaurant. I return the following morning to take a picture, but all of the ceremonial offerings and flags have been removed (see photo above).

Din in the Distance

When I have breakfast at the Roof Top Sky Restaurant the following morning, however, the sounds seems to be louder, sometimes drowning out the restaurant’s soundtrack of Balinese music.

There are melodic gongs and what sounds like dramatic narration and impassioned dialogue.I noticed a certain din in the distance when I first check into the Swiss Belhotel Bay View, two days earlier. But I didn’t give it much throught. You often hear noises in the distance like this in Bali

When I survey the view, I can see beautiful flags and offerings waving in the breeze amongst the bamboo. If you look very carefulliy at the photo above, you will see some white flags flying from bamboo poles in the upper one fourth of the photo.

When I have breakfast on my second morning, the noise seems to be a bit louder than the day before. I consider walking to the temple to check things out, but I don’t know exactly where it’s located. And it’s extremely hot. 

I’m not feeling well, and I’m hoping to find a place with air-conditioning to cool off. I also need to find an ATM. I’m completely out of cash. I decide to take the hotel shuttle bus into town instead of searching for the temple.

Festival of Metal

As I am working at my computer in my villa on my 3rd and final night, the sounds emanating from the temple grow so loud that I can hear them over the hum of my air-conditioning.

It’s cooled off considerably. I’m feeling better. I decide to go out and investigate.

A security guard greets me and asks where I want to go. I say I am curious about the noise. He patiently explains the customs to me surrounding Tumpek Landep. It confirms what I read in the newspaper earlier in the day.

“Is it possible for me to go the the temple?” I ask the guard.

“Yes, but you must wear a sarong,” he says.

“I have one, but I will need help putting it on.”

With the security guard’s help, I put on the sarong, and he escorts me through the hotel grounds to the temple. When I walk into the compound, I’m surrounded by people of all ages wearing the most gorgeous clothes imaginable.

The men are all wearing those beautiful caps that Balinese men wear to temple. Some of the women are balancing offerings on their heads. Children are looking at me with the same awestruck curiosity that I’m feeling as I take in my surroundings.

For a few fleeting moments I feel as though I’ve been transplanted onto the set of a Hollywood movie being filmed on location in some exotic locale.

Just as the Security Guard Promised

Hindu devotees hang religious offerings on their vehicles on the Festival of Metal. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

A man walks up to me and introduces himself, just as the security guard promised someone would do. And he explains to me what is going on, just as the security guard promised someone would do.

“The ceremony is about to end,” he says. “You should have gotten here earlier. Nothing will happen here tomorrow”

The man says it’s time for him to go, and he shakes hands with me. A woman observes this. She steps forward and shakes hands with me, as well. A girl observes the woman shaking hands with me, and she repeats the gesture.

A village elder shakes hands with me on his way out of the compound.

Suddenly doors open and women carrying offerings on their heads emerge from the interior of the temple. They are followed a troupe of men playing giant Balinese xylophones. They walk slowly to a flat bed truck, climb onto the back of it and continue playing as they drive off through the hotel grounds.

Devotees start mounting their motor scooters and ride off through the hotel grounds with engines revving.

As I walk back to the hotel, a car pauses as it passes me. A young Balinese man smiles at me, and through the open window he shouts an enthusiastic, “Good night, boss!”

“Good night!” I call back.

Am I dreaming, or is this just another day in the Island of Gods?

Where

Swiss Belhotel Bay View, Jalan Ko Iwa, Taman Mumbul, Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia. Telephone: +62 361-847 8000.

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