Pura Luhur Batukaru—Balinese temple ceremony

Pura Luhur Batukaru is one of the six temples sacred to all Hindu-Balinese. Built in the 11th century it is one of the most ancient sacred sites in Bali. It was here that we experienced our first Balinese ceremony. Pak Astika is a Pemankgku which is a type of priest so he preformed much of the 2 hour ceremony. It was necessary for us to wear the appropriate temple clothing so we were suited up over our clothes. Man, was it HOT!

Following Pak Astika’s wife through the dense jungle vegetation to the first temple. She easily carried prayer offerings and our "after praying snack" on her head.

Here I am following Pak Astika's wife wearing the traditional kebaya, sash and sarong (over my clothes!!!) not carrying offerings on my head—I tried though. We passed this shrine in the center of the lake honoring the goddess of Lake Tambligan and the god of Mount Batu Karu.

Praying at the second temple. Hands were always with thumbs at our brow line holding flowers in our fingers. After each prayer you toss a flower to the alter and put one in your hair.

We got sprinkled, drank and washed with holy water at each temple site along with pressing rice onto our foreheads. We prayed at four temples. By the end of the day, I had flowers stuck all over my hair, rice stuck everywhere and after trying to sit crossed legged in a sarong for two hours in the heat, I decided it was a lot of work to be Balinese.

It was truly an amazing experience.