Barong Procession in Baturiti

Secret Bali | Written By, NOW! BALI | May 31st, 2013

A chance meeting with a Balinese friend in the know led to an extraordinary excursion to the cool, high, terraced hills of Baturiti. Here, in one of Bali’s most dramatically beautiful rice growing areas, is the Pura Luhur Pucak Padang Dawa Temple and the site of a spectacular annual ceremony where hundreds of people adorned as Barongs (benevolent lion-like creatures in Balinese mythology) converge to be blessed and to take the holy waters. Once this area was a centre of holy Barong making. It is believed that the strong spiritual powers, belonging to the Hindu God, Sang Hyang Siwa Pashupati, imbue the area with taksu (magical powers)

TEXT AND Photos by ayu sekar

A chance meeting with a Balinese friend in the know led to an extraordinary excursion to the cool, high, terraced hills of Baturiti. Here, in one of Bali’s most dramatically beautiful rice growing areas, is the Pura Luhur Pucak Padang Dawa Temple and the site of a spectacular annual ceremony where hundreds of people adorned as Barongs (benevolent lion-like creatures in Balinese mythology) converge to be blessed and to take the holy waters.

Once this area was a centre of holy Barong making. It is believed that the strong spiritual powers, belonging to the Hindu God, Sang Hyang Siwa Pashupati, imbue the area with taksu (magical powers) and Barongs are brought here to be blessed. Many are coming home, as the area around this powerful Pura (temple) was a centre of holy Barong making.

The area was filled with parasok trees, a kind of spiny relative to the pandanus, used to create the distinctive hair and the torso for the Barong. Sadly the very popularity of this beautiful site has caused its demise, as the trees were cut to make way for bigger roads and more parking. But the spiritual strength remains and at each and every Odalan ceremony, Barongs come with their people from all over Gianyar, Tabanan, Badung and Denpasar to receive new blessings and be cleansed with holy waters (air suci), thus strengthening the spiritual bond. 

Thousands of devotees converge on the hill temple, and long processions of white garbed men and women wearing colourful kebaya (traditional dress) can be seen threading along the narrow roads. Long umbul umbuls (traditional decorative flags) and the fabulous clanging of cymbals, herald the arrival of yet another Barong, who will receive a blessing and small ceremony before continuing along to the temple. 

The Barongs converge at the upper or inner temple where cleansing ceremonies proceed until long after noon, when it is time for them to take the waters. 

Each Barong descends from the temple accompanied by tranced attendants and others baring strange paraphernalia which one could only guess at their significance. Never mind. The visuals are amazing. Another fabulous procession evolves, as Barong after Barong, with their entourages, are escorted down the hill to the holy spring. People stand in awe or deep devotion. The sight of so many Barongs is just magnificent. The number of lucky tourists to see the event? Perhaps five! 

Even Bali’s Governor Pak Mangku Pastika arrives at the temple, early morning before the crowds, and most of the Barongs and long before we got there. 

 

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