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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Gods in The Island of Gods (4)

Such guardian Bhataras are not limited to personal house only. From my grandmother I also know something about a village deity, a Devi. The more powerful Devis that known as grama-devatas, the patron of the village are reside in village temples. They were believed as emanations of Mother Goddess, Durgadevi, or at least empowered by Her. In Bali they have their shrines in the Death Temple since they have relationship with Mother Durga. But this certain Devi that we called Jro Luh or “Revered Lady” though also can be classified as grama-devata, has a more limited area under her control. She was famous for her magnanimous nature. Many villagers came for her help. One miracle she used to show was to lend her jewelleries to poor peoples.

One kind of gramadevata's or sthanadevata's shrine presiding over a pond (water source)

In traditional Balinese custom it is improper to attend temple festivals without dressing well. We have to use our best clothes, especially for the ladies they have to decorate themselves with the best fabrics and jewelleries. This is the time to meet the gods and Supreme Lord, The Sovereign Master of the whole universe. How could you look like a beggar and show yourself in front of such a great and important personality? Look poor in front of the Devas were a rude act for a Balinese. It was impolite to not dress properly even in front of an elder or honourable mundane person. So a poor village woman may propitiate “Our Revered Lady” and ask her to please lend her jewellery so she can dress properly in temple festival. The Devi then miraculously put a golden ring, or earring bedecked with precious stone, or a pair of golden bracelets, or sometime a golden chains necklace, on the special place, a table-like stone at the bank of the river nearby. Only the one who ask for it can see the precious things. After the festival over, the lending must be put again on the same place, never try to steal it from the Devi or sell it; otherwise you will get severe punishment. Some people also said that the Devi help them in their business. One family I know as maintainer of the Devi’s shrine was not so rich. But after they keep their heavily earned money, little by little, and use it to repair the shrine, now their business growing very fast and became wealthy and prosperous family. Some people mistakenly thought that the Devi will fulfill all their material desire. But actually, our Devi try to help people as a servant to the greater Devatas and finally Our Supreme Lord, so they who get some help to gain more wealth from her can use it to make better offerings at the temple festivals.

Peoples always offering some food or flower (look at the stuffs under the umbrellas) to the deities of this public bathing place. Considered emanates from holy spring, many people come to take a bath for purification. The supernatural personalities propitiated by these offerings considered as the protector of this water's sanctity.

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