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Bali Car Rental Blog

ODALANS or Temple Anniversaries

6 September 2008

Bali is well-known as the island of thousand temples. There are over 20,000 temples on the island. Ranging from small family temples to elaborate complexes such as the mother temple of Besakih. Great or small, every temple has an odalan, anniversary celebration every 210 days. Odalans (temple anniversaries) are more than just religious events, they are village celebrations. The Balinese take great pride in their partnership with family, village and temples. When it is Odalan, forget everything else. Odalan is a time of joyful reconnection with the spiritual side of Balinese life. Socially, it is time for celebrating friendships and just generally treating everyone with respect and generosity.

At Odalan, the gods are given food, entertained, respected and worshipped. The people eat, get spiritually purified and renewed thus becoming positively energized. All Balinese village temples celebrate Odalan like a gala affair. Outside the temple, the atmosphere is comparable to an old-fashioned Western County Fair. There are food and drink booths with clothes, tools and toys being put up for sale. Inside the temple you will find decorated shrines and pratimas (symbols of God). The festive clothing of participants; the banging of drums and gongs, the streams of incense smoke wafting heavenward carrying the prayers and offerings of the people to the gods are all combined to create magic forces that easily fill the peoples minds and spirits into an alternative state of consciousness.

Balinese people are particularly fashion conscious at celebrations such as Odalans. The women wear their best jewelry, finest kamben and belts, and gorgeous pastel-colored lace blouses called kebayak. (Incidentally, the sarongs they sell here in the tourist shops are actually kamben). A sarong has its ends sewn together to form a tube with the men wearing a kamben a jacket called " Safari " and a hat called " Destar ". Especially for Odalans, the color of white is dominant.

The colorful processions with the women carrying towering offerings of fruit and cake perched precariously atop their head are definitely a big plus factor in the ambience of this island. Balinese call the towering offerings as " Pajegan " or " Gedogan ". Fortunately for tourists there is almost always an Odalan happening somewhere on Bali and at these temple celebrations it is where one may witness the true magic of Balinese dance and theater. If you are interested to see the Odalans dont forget to wear your kambens and sash and feel free to take photos we dont mind it at all if you do!