KUALA LUMPUR: Five priests from the Indonesian island of Bali initiated a historic exchange between the Hindu communities of Indonesia and Malaysia when they conducted a special prayer at a Temple in Kuala Lumpur during a tour of the Malaysian capital recently.
The visit will now be reciprocated by several Malaysian priests touring Bali, famous for its ancient Hindu heritage and spirituality, later this year. Both visits are organised by the Global Hindu Federation (GHF).
One of the Balinese priests, Ayu Purwati, described the ceremony on Sept 9 at the Sri Ramalingeswarar Temple in the popular neighbourhood of Bangsar in Kuala Lumpur, as an “extraordinary experience.”
“We Hindus of Bali are honoured to be present here to meet the local Hindu leaders and devotees,” she said, adding that a new “bridge” had been created between Hindus of the two neighbouring countries.
“We pray that the Hindu people here are constantly blessed with good health, peace, and prosperity through the ages,” she said.
Dressed in their traditional religious attire, the priests conducted the ceremony with incantations in classical Balinese and Sanskrit, offering of flowers and chiming of a sacred bell.
They were joined by Malaysian Hindu devotees, all of the Indian descent, who watched in awe as the Indonesians performed the ceremony in customary Balinese Hindu style.
The congregation had earlier participated in the regular evening aarti session. The Indonesian guests also exchanged blessings with the Temple’s own priests.
Malaysian devotee K. Manohary said she was pleased to have had the unique opportunity to watch the priests from Bali perform their Hindu rituals in Malaysia.
She said although the Balinese used a distinctive language, they share many commonalities with their religious brethren in Malaysia.
This was the first time the five priests had journeyed out of Indonesia. They also visited the famous Batu Caves Temple complex and were taken for sightseeing to a few other religious and tourism areas around Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysian Hindus are mostly descendants of immigrants from India during the British colonial period and generally practise the same rites as observed in India.
Balinese Hindus, however, have a unique style of worship inherited indigenously with minimal direct links to the Indian subcontinent for the last few centuries.
Both share the same Vedic philosophy, revere gods including Shiva, Shakti, Ganesh, Rama, and Krishna, and read scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita and Puranas.
Submitted to CurrenTriggers.com by Himanshu Bhatt, journalist and heritage activist based in Penang, Malaysia.