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Built on the top of a steep cliff of a black coral rock, 90 meters above the Indian Ocean, Pura Luhur Uluwatu is the second most important temple on the island of Bali. Its location provides the spiritual balance to the island, so it became a popular place of worship. The view from here is outstanding. Picturesque. And during the sunset – breath-taking!
Uluwatu Temple is one of the six temples classified as Sad Kahyangan – the Six Sanctuaries and holiest places of the World. Uluwatu is a state temple dedicated to the spirits of the sea. Balinese believe in and respect both – the Good and the Evil (Gods and Demons). According to Balinese Hindu, all Demons and bad spirits live in the sea (ocean, rivers, coastline). Therefore, there are several sea temples, like Tanah Lot (read more about Tanah Lot Temple here) and Uluwatu (read more about Uluwatu Temple here), built along the coastal line of Bali in order to protect the island from the Evil.
People from around the World come here to enjoy the marvelous location and positive vibes. But not only! During the sunset here in Uluwatu, you can see probably the most famous dance of Bali – the Kecak Fire Dance! Although this dance is one of the youngest in Bali, it has become the most favourite one among its visitors.
The Kecak Dance was created in 1930 by the German choreographer Walter Spies who was inspired by the much older Balinese “Sanghyang Dance”. Spies also adopted the epic Hindu story of “Ramayana” in order to create a more dramatic story for the visitors of Bali. In this story, the Goddess Sita (the wife of Prince Rama) was abducted by King Ravana.
The Kecak dance has been developed and modified several times since the 70s. During the fire dance, hundreds of men in black and white sarongs are sitting in a lotus position and raising their hands up to the sky, while monotonously repeating the mantra “ke-cak-ke-cak”. Kecak Dance counts also as a form of an exorcism and can go on for hours or even months!
During the Kecak Dance, many of the dancers are walking on burning coals demonstrating trance-like state… “ke-cak-ke-chak-ke-chak” … the chant goes on … It felt almost hypnotic to me! On 29th September 2006 the most colossal Kecak Dance took place at Tanah Lot. 5000 Kecak Dancer came together to demonstrate the trance chant and to sway with the rhythm of “ke-cak-ke-chak-ke-chak”.
In the Kecak Dance, there is actually no music, but sounds generated from all dancers, who make music in acapella (the Gamelan Suara). All dancers, all men, are sitting on the ground in a circle. One of them acts like an archon who gives the tone earlier. On the other hand, another dancer act like subduer combining low and high tones. There are also several solo singers which you will hear in the background of “ke-cak-ke-chak-ke-chak” … Amongst the swaying masses, the voices of the storytellers can be heard telling the evolving drama…
The epic story between the Good and Evil narrates about Prince Rama, his wife Sita, the Monkey God Hanuman, the eagle messenger of the gods Garuda (the King of all births), and the daemon God Ravana. The story tells that princess Sita was abducted by Ravana. Hanuman, the ape God, helps prince Rama to search for Sita. Garuda rescues Rama from being imprisoned by Ravana. The narrative ends with the fight between Rama and God Ravana. You can already guess who won at the very end?! 😉
Enjoy the Day!
Continue reading this series:
Essential Bali Travel Tips ~ What to Know Before You Go! Part I