Island of Millions Shrines

Bali is the Island of Thousands Temples, can boast of 50,000 temples, but that figure is far smaller then the number of shrine found in Bali. There are more than one and a half million shrines scattered all over the island. They are everywhere, outdoor and indoor; they can be found in houses, courtyards, marketplace, cemeteries, and rice paddies; on beaches, barren rocks off-shore, deserted hilltops, and mountain heights; deep inside caves; within the tangled toots of banyan trees.

At most intersections and most dangerous places, temples are erected to prevent mishaps. Even in the middle of jungle crossroads, incense burns at small shrines brightened with flowers, wrapped leaves, and gaily colored cloth. Shrine in Bali can be divided into two categories indoor and outdoor shrine. The indoor shrine is called plangkiran it can be found in every room in the houses, offices, hospitals, shops, restaurants, schools, ect as long as the structure is owned by a Balinese.

The indoor shrine, plangkiran, is usually attached high on the wall at the north eastern corner of a room. It is usually made of wood, lavishly painted and decorated. Every morning an offering is placed on it, to pacify the spirit that resides in that plangkiran. The indoor shrine, plangkiran, that is installed on a house is usually dedicated to the domestic spirit in that house, while the indoor shrine, plangkiran, in a shop, office, or other business site is dedicated to the God of Wealth (Bhatara Rambut Sedana). Indoor shrine, plangkiran, is also used as a place to keep magical items such as Kris, palm leaf manuscript, amulet, or traditional medicines.

The outdoor shrine is further divided into two categories; they are the temporary and the permanent one. The temporary shrine is called sanggah, it is usually erected for a ceremonial purpose and taken down after the ceremony is over. The size of this temporary shrine is varied from small sanggah cucuk to gigantic two-storey sanggah agung. The permanent outdoor shrine is called pelinggih. It is usually made of concrete or combination of brick and porous stone.

It is erected on sacred or spooky place for the spiritual being to reside. The permanent outdoor shrine, pelinggih, is usually found in courtyards, marketplace, cemeteries, and rice paddies; intersections; crossroads; bridges; beaches; mountain heights; hill top, gorge, river, caves; within the banyan trees, etc. Only the permanent outdoor shrine pelinggih has a specific day for its ceremony. On this day the pelinggih is decorated with new clothes and symbolic ornaments made of woven young coconut leaves the offering which is presented on the day at pelinggih’s ceremony is much bigger than the daily offering.

The permanent outdoor shrine pelinggih that is built in the spooky place, tenget, is usually used by Balinese as a place for asking assistance, wealth or upgrading their magical power by meditating and presenting a particular offering to the spirit that resides in that permanent outdoor shrine, pelinggih.

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