Sunday, February 16, 2014

Land of the Mahabharata

The Mahabharata one of Hinduism's greatest epic, the other being the Ramayana, does not belong to India alone. As Hinduism spread beyond the subcontinent, so to did the exploits of the Mahabharata heroes.

In Bali literally the last bastion of Hinduism in Southeast Asia, one cannot help but notice how the Hindu culture of this island is influenced by this epic tale.

If you know the story and all its characters, you will know what I mean. My brief sojourn in Bali right after Diwali in November 2013, reminded me of this story, from the places I visited to the beautiful statues found around the island.

The view from my room at the Astana Kunti Suite Apartments in Seminyak, Bali, where we stayed. "Astana" means palace, and Kunti is the mother of the famous Pandava princes of the Mahabharata epic.

A statue of Arjuna who was famed for his prowess in archery. One of the heroes of the Mahabharata.

A statue of Ghatotkacha, the demon son of Bheema or Bhima who fought on the side of the Pandavas and perished in the Mahabharata war.

A statue of Lord Krishna outside the Krisna Souvenir store in Denpasar.

Another statue of Lord Krishna outside a restaurant opposite the souvenir store.

Little pallets or containers made of palm leaves and filled with flowers, petals and incense form an integral part of Balinese worship.

Offerings laid out on a rock in the compound of Batuan Temple in Batuan Village, located along the road to Denpasar.

A stone jar filled with water and flower petals in the compound of Pura Tirta Empul (Temple of Holy Water). Located between Ubud and Kintamani.

 A statue of Goddess Saraswathi outside a music shop in Tanah Lot.

The Balinese Hindus.

Devotees to and fro from the Tanah Lot temple.

The Tirta Gangga Water Palace.

The water from Tirta Gangga is used for religious rites.