Balinese villages are built based upon a principal known as Kaja-Kelod. Kaja refers to the sacred mountains, a place of holy origin. While the opposite Kelod means the sea a place of Mortality, for its low,, hot and drowning liquid, where the flow of all the sins goes.
Based upon this traditional system, in every village, towards the mountains, the people built the Pura Puseh (temple of origin). This temple is a place to honor the ancestors. Pura Desa (Village temple) is in the center of every village and the center of religious and cultural activity in the village.
Towards the Kelod direction is the Pura Dalam, or temple of the dead. At the kelod end of the village is the Pura Dalem (temple of the dead) as well as the graveyard. The Pura Dalem would have representations of Durga, the dark and terrible side of Shiva's wife, Parvati. Both Shiva and Parvati have a creative and destructive side, and it is their powers of destruction that are honored in the Pura Dalem.
Bali customs and respect temple etiquette
Here are some rules that have to be observed by the visitors in visiting a temple in Bali. I always give my tour members sarongs and sashes when they arrive in Bali.
You must dress decently for temple visits, which means a sarong and sash. If you don’t have a sarong, at least wear long pants for men and women a dress that covers knees and shoulders for women (or a skirt with a blouse, etc). At most temples there is a donation box with a book for registering at the entrance. You should always put a donation in the box. A couple dollars in rupiah.
- Do not climb onto the temple buildings or walls.
- Do not stand or sit higher than a priest.
- Do not stand directly in front of the priest, or walk in front of the kneeling congregation. You must also not remain standing when people kneel to pray.
- If people are praying, avoid getting between them and direction in which they are praying.
- Use camera with discretion. Do not uses flash when the devotees are praying, it will be better not to use flash at all.
- By ancient law, menstruating women are banned from the temples, due to general sanction against blood in holy area same prohibition applies to people with open wound.