Long known at “the island of a thousand temples” – Bali is indeed home to thousands of holy Hindu temples, repositories of sacred artifacts and spiritually imbued as to earn Bali its alternate title as “the island of the Gods.”
Beritabali.com reports that a survey conducted in 1979 counted 5,259 temples in Bali, a number that has since grown and is now estimated to exceed 10,000. Contained within this astounding number of temples found on a relatively small island are 9 main temples (Kahyangan jagat Bali), 714 secondary temples (Dang Kahyangan) and 4,368 minor temples (Kahyangan Tiga). This tally does not include other religious sites such as holy places of spirit worship (tempat suci pemujaan roh suci leluhur) – also known as Pura Kawitan or Padadian.
While Bali Hinduism once paid homage to an entire pantheon of deities, for a variety of reasons, modern Balinese Hinduism is largely observant to Sanghyang Widi Wasa – the Supreme One.
Historical evidence of sites dedicated to prayer and worship date back to 800 A.D.
Balinese temples or pura, while places of worship, are not the permanent domicile of God, but more a intersection between the manifest and spiritual worlds where, on certain occasions, such as the anniversary of a Pura (odalan), God and spirits will take up temporary residence.
These holy visitations in Bali are usually accompanied by ministrations delivered by holy men (pedanda), sacred dances and mantra-filled incantations chanted in ancient Sanskrit.
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