Odalans Temple Celebrations
During an odalan or temple anniversary in Bali, entire communities show up in their finest white clothing and bring offerings to the gods and spirits that keep life in Bali harmonious. Complex Hindu rituals start in the early morning and continue for hours until evening while gamelan musicians play a percussive soundtrack, which serves to both appease good spirits and repel evil ones. Women are the bearers of the majority of offerings, which range from prayers, flowers, and food to incense while men prepare and offer animal parts and entire animals to the gods. Balinese Hinduism is comprised of a variety of rituals that blend both religious and animistic practices, which sets it apart from Hinduism elsewhere in the world. Priests, mediums, and healers play an integral part in ceremonies and in their communities in general.
Brahmin priests preside over various types of ceremonies—they serve as the intermediary between the gods and the general population. They offer mantras and prayers while simultaneously ringing a temple bell to cleanse the energies of a place. The Balinese pay delicate attention to details for ceremonies including dressing in elegant custom-made clothing that also appeals to the gods’ appreciation of beauty. Each day on the island abounds with processions and rituals to bless houses, honor machinery, cleanse a village of evil spirits, and mark major life transitions such as: baby blessings (where a baby touches the ground for the first time), teenage coming-of-age tooth filings to file the pointed canine teeth (which remove one’s animal nature), marriage, and death (grand cremation ceremonies).