Chinese New Year in Bali

Today is Chinese New Year, or Imlek, throughout Indonesia and the world. The Chinese communities in the major cities throughout Indonesia, Jakarta, Semarang, Surabaya, Bandung and Yogyakarta, will be holding street parades featuring Barong Sai and many more puppets dancing in the streets and in klentengs (Chinese temples).

Not many visitors to Bali know of the existence of a Chinese temple in Kuta. In fact, when you leave Bali to head to the airport, you travel right past it and it is easily unnoticed. Down a quiet alleyway off Jalan Bakungsari and fronting the very busy Jalan Singo Sari is located the only Bhuddist temple in the Kuta area.

There are several Chinese temples in Bali and a couple of Klentengs (Chinese temples) in Denpasar but they are smaller whereas the Vihara Dharmayana on Jalan Tanjung Mekar is a relatively large temple and patronised by the Chinese community in Kuta. Anybody can enter the temple, look around and take photographs (please do it discreetly so as not to disturb those praying). There are several Bhuddist statues and the whole temple is decorated in the lucky Chinese colour of red.

Vihara Dharmayana during the week-long festival is spectacular with Barongsai dance and those colourful masks. Red lanterns are strung from the buildings in the temple compound and there is a steady stream of devotees praying and paying homage to Bhudda. It is also a time of feasting and the best time during the celebratory week is at night when all the delicious food is brought out for all to share. If you visit the temple then please leave a small donation as it helps with the upkeep of the temple.

To all my Chinese friends in Indonesia, I would like to express…