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temple in Bali
The population of Bali is predominantly Hindu, and their religion is very strong. Any Bali family that has a house with a garden will put a shrine in it as soon as their finances allow. One Balinese explained it thus: "We will never be wealthy. As soon as we have any spare cash we spend it on our religion".

As you drive along the roads of Bali you will see shrines crammed into every corner of the gardens. If there is space a family may also build a special area for important occasions - such as fetes and funerals - all lined with marble.

The temples are a natural attraction for the curious tourist, but they are also places of religious worship, and should be respected as thus. Some temples are not open to the wandering visitor hand must be admired from afar. It is important to respect their views on dress. Some of the prohibitions on who is allowed access to their temples may seem a little curious to the European (see left) but as always when visiting places of worship a little common sense can avoid causing unnecessary offense.

Religion permeates all walks of life in Bali, and is not confined to shrines and temples. Small offerings may be just laid on the pavement in a town - so try to avoid stepping on them. A tree may be designated a holy tree, and woe betide the developer who wants to cut it down. Local people at one of the hotels tell with relish the story of one man who wanted to cut down an inconvenient tree that was holy, but who died in a car crash before the saw touched the tree. It stands today, decorated with offerings, a monument to the strength of their religion.


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