Pura, A Village Temple

By: Charlie Kodatt

After living in Indonesia for almost a decade, then returning to the US during COVID to support family, Toraja Mountain Coffee’s Chief Coffee Officer Charlie Kodatt recently returned to the place where our story starts.

This is the fourth part of his journey back to the mountaintop farms in Toraja - arriving in Bali.

This serene, mysterious place is a village temple called a ‘pura.’ It feels as if there are thousands of them in Bali alone. It’s intricate. Secretive. Built with very strict guidelines in its meaning and construction. Designed for the community to come together and worship.

Pura temple facade

On this particular visit, I was by myself - with an hour to spare on my way to a very small chocolate shop where I learn the art of chocolate-making from a local master. With that extra hour, I took a new road, which is something I do all the time to explore and learn more.

So, I turn down into this village tucked away on my way to Tabannan - slowly along a really interesting stone road. Balinese houses lining the sides. People outside talking. I ride on as the road keeps going and going. Finally, it dead ends. And this pura is there. Off in the distance was a rice field and two hands actively working. (You can see pictures of that rice field in the “Rice is Life” article post.)

Carved face at an Indonesia Pura temple

This pura is stunning. Totally carved in stone. Immediately you get the feeling like it’s been there almost forever. And that there’s magic associated with it. It’s heavily decorated with about 2,000 various heads of a panther-like entity known as Barong. Rubbing your hands on the carved stone, you can almost feel the efforts of the people who spent years sculpting everything. You feel the age and the personal attention to detail, because it was an internal matter for the carver and his family. The meaning is deeper than you can imagine.

The Balinese love Barong. Even though he looks aggressive, he’s recognized as a spirit that embodies all the good in life. Barong is the yang to the Demon Queen Rangda’s yin.

While there, it felt as if the place was hiding secrets. In my mind, visions appeared of nighttime seances with fire, chickens, roosters, people dancing with spirits inside, taking over their bodies and having a party.

It was an eerie feeling. Yet still, I wanted to get inside the gates. See more, touch more, experience more.

The lesson here. There’s so much to this world that you don’t know. I encourage you to explore. And never forget that everything has meaning.

Carved faces in the wall of a Pura temple
Statue of an Indonesian para temple
Statue at Indonesian pura temple
Tower at an Indonesian Pura Temple

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