Temples and Ceremonies in Bali

Temples and ceremonies in Bali are an integral part of Balinese society and culture. Each village in Bali has at least three temples (sometimes more) that relate to a particular god and certain deceased persons. Hindu and Buddhist believers use the same temples. The basic differences between the temples are:

Pura Dalem Temple

Devoted to the god Siwa, the destroyer (pencabut). This is the Temple of the Dead, and is the first built in a new village. People who have died but are not yet purified or diefied are dangerous and evil. Rites at Pura Dalem are to restrict these influences.

Pura Puseh Temple

Devoted to Visnu, the protector (pemilihara). This is the Temple of Origin where villagers worship the purified and diefied forefather or clan and village founder. The gods are venerated as owners of the ground, over which the village has only the right of use.

Pura Desa/Pura Bale Agung Temple

Devoted   to   Brahmana,   the   creator   (pencipta). Temple of the large meeting hall where the villagers assemble to worship and hold meetings. It is situated in the centre of the village.

Pura Merajan Temple

This is a family temple where one worships one’s ancestors.

Besakih Temple


Each temple is divided into three parts or courts; the forecourt, central and inner court. In one corner of the forecourt is the ‘kul-kul’ or split-wooden block which is rung at festivals or for emergencies. It is also the shed to store the temple’s rice. In the inner court are the altars for the gods and ‘bales’ where communal offerings are prepared.


Local ceremony in East Bali

Temples and Ceremonies in Bali


Cremation plays a pivotal role in the religious cycle. By means of cremation the soul is purified and joins the group of diefied beings, that is, goes from Pura Dalem to Pura Puseh. Pura Puseh is situated on higher (kaja) land, and the Pura Dalem on lower (kelod) land.


Religious ceremonies that take place in every village include the anniversaries of the temples, the harvest feasts, Nyepi. Galungan and Kuningan. Villagers make financial and manual contributions in preparation for the events. On the day, or day before, men chop meat while women prepare offerings and young  people perform dances. Temples and ceremonies in Bali.

Galungan Ceremony

This holiday lasts for a few days. On different days different offerings are made. The streets of Bali are overhung with long bamboo poles with tassles hanging off them to represent the sacred Mt. Meru. The last day is called Galungan. At this time the spirits of the ancestors return to earth and reside in the chapels, and then return to heaven. Galungan is the celebration of the creation of the universe. The supreme God is worshipped and thanked. It is held every 210 days, from Tuesday to Thursday. Galungan literally means to fight evil for three days, win and then celebrate victory.

Kuningan Ceremony

Kuningan is associated with Galungan and falls eight days later. Taman Sari Temple at Mas is a popular place to watch the festivities.

Odalan Ceremony

Once a ‘year’ (Balinese or Javanese year) each temple celebrates its anniversary when the villagers seek to contact the gods of that temple. Each temple festival consists of the essential elements of bringing offering and paying homage (membanten/mebakti).

Nyepi Day of Silence

This is the Annual Purification on the Hindu-Balinese New Year which falls at the beginning of the 10th Balinese month (usually in March). It is a day of silence (no loud noises), smoking and lighting fires is not permitted, you may not go outside of one’s compound, and one should fast for 24 hours if healthy.