The Religious System of Tenganan Village: Preserving Bali Aga Tradition Without the Influence of Majapahit

In the rich and meaningful realm of worship, Tenganan Village in Bali radiates enchanting uniqueness as a sturdy representative of the Bali Aga community. Stepping firmly beyond the glittering influence of the Majapahit Kingdom that creeps into its neighboring villages, Tenganan Village presents its exclusive image. Strengthening its identity, the village chooses a different path, firmly rejecting the presence of village temples (pura desa), ancestral temples (pura puseh), and inner temples (pura dalem), creating a striking contrast. This courage is not only evidence of the village's sincerity in preserving cultural wisdom but also a manifesto of Tenganan's resilience against the religious norms that often shape the surrounding villages.

Feb 14, 2024 - 00:49
Dec 26, 2023 - 23:29
The Religious System of Tenganan Village: Preserving Bali Aga Tradition Without the Influence of Majapahit
Tenganan Pegringsingan Village Ancestor Temple (Source: Private Collection)

The worship system practiced by the people of Tenganan also reflects its unique character. Unlike most Balinese communities that conduct rituals for the Gods, the people of Tenganan express reverence and worship for their ancestors. The sacred places in Tenganan originate from the legend of the sliced horse Oncesrawa, which inspired the construction of 34 worship places in the area. These places are not conventional temple structures found in other Balinese villages; instead, they are represented by piles of stones, possibly reflecting the historical legacy of the megalithic era before the influence of the Majapahit.

One of the temples in Tenganan Pegringsingan Village (Source: Private Collection)

The significance of the existence of these worship places in Tenganan as representations of their religious beliefs lies in the concept derived from their historical heritage. The village steadfastly maintains its identity as a Bali Aga community, not only preserving the megalithic culture but also rejecting the dominance of Majapahit influences in religious beliefs and practices.

Tenganan Village has its allure as it not only rejects the religious norms commonly adopted by the surrounding society but also lacks the distinctive temple structures typical of most Balinese villages. This courage illustrates Tenganan's determination to preserve its Bali Aga cultural roots, which have endured for centuries.

One of the Relics of the Megalithic Era in Tenganan Pegringsingan Village (Source: Private Collection)

The stone-represented temples in Tenganan carry profound meanings that may harken back to the megalithic era. The choice of this representation as a sacred place reaffirms Tenganan's commitment to remain faithful to its cultural roots from the past, long before the significant influence of the Majapahit.

By maintaining religious concepts derived from historical heritage, Tenganan Village becomes not only a culturally appealing destination but also a symbol of continuity and resilience for the Bali Aga community. The reverence for ancestors as objects of worship confirms that the values and beliefs held by Tenganan remain unwavering despite the changing times and external influences.

Tenganan Village proudly upholds its belief system and religious practices as a form of resistance against the significant influence of the Majapahit. Its uniqueness in lacking village temples, "pura puseh," and "pura dalem" illustrates that Tenganan is not just a guardian of Bali Aga cultural heritage but also a pioneer in preserving its identity amid the tide of modernization.

Salah Satu Pura Peninggalan Zaman Megalitikum Desa tenganan Pegringsingan (Sumber: Koleksi Pribadi)

In this context, the sacred places of Tenganan represented by piles of stones play a crucial role as a symbol of cultural continuity and steadfastness in ancestral values. These temples are not just physical structures but also manifestations of courage and the desire to preserve the uniqueness of Tenganan Village as a Bali Aga community holding firm to its historical and megalithic cultural heritage.

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