Selamat malam dari Indonesia!
After many attempts to log on to the Haverford blogs, we finally found a way to make it work (shoutout to Jen!) and at this point, I have been living in Indonesia for a solid month.
This past weekend (July 5 and 6) the large group (comprised of the 6 HC and BMC students, 6 Indonesian students, and 10 grad
students from George Mason University) went on a temple tour.
We started at Prambanan Temple, which is a mere 25-30 minutes from our
homestay and UNY (the university where we study). It was
pretty amazing! The temples were enormous, and hundreds of years old. What really captured my interest was the architecture of the temples, and the materials used to build them. The temples were built to very specific instructions; the entrances had to be facing a certain direction and facing each other at the same time.
It is the largest Hindu site of worship in Indonesia and one of the largest in Southeast Asia. There were originally 200+ temples (eight main temples, eight main shrines, and over two hundred smaller temples on the outskirts). The larger temples represent three large gods in the Hindu religion: Lords Vishnu, Shiva, and Brahma.
After we finished walking around the Prambanan, we headed to another temple, Candi Ijo.
Candi Ijo (Pronounced: CHandi EjO) is by far my favorite temple. It is located on the outskirts of Jogja, high up in the mountains. From there, we were able to see the entire Kota Jogja (kota= city), including the airport
and several villages. After (somewhat) becoming accustomed to the humid heat, congestion and park-lessness of Jogja
in the last month, Candi Ijo’s cool breezes, green grasses and the shade of the temples was an amazing breath of fresh air (literally and figuratively).
Candi Ijo was the highlight of my day. The temples were cool, the architecture amazing, and it just reminded me of a place where I could kick back, relax, and not have a care in the world.
Throughout our temple visits, I did not see many people who seemed as if they were actually conducting prayers or using the space as a holy site. Maybe I missed the signs, or I did not know what to look for in the first place. Prambanan was so vast and crowded that there could have been people praying and I never would have noticed. Candi Ijo was practically empty (I only saw one couple who seemed to be tourists as well) and there were definitely no prayers being conducted while we were there. It makes me wonder: In becoming public icons and popular tourist destinations, have these “sacred sites” lost their hold on religion?