Luh De Suriyani , The Jakarta Post , Kuta | Tue, 10/21/2008 11:27 AM
As many as 20 bloggers from the Bali Blogger Community (BBC) have gathered with one goal – to reveal the other side of one of the island’s hotspots, the famous Kuta Beach.
“We are challenged to find the old face of Kuta, not the modern one where Kuta is merely known as a beach area that is full of nightclubs and tourists,” Putu Hendra Brawijaya, one of the BBC members, told reporters Saturday.
“Besides, we are conducting this field trip so we won’t forget the historical side of this area,”he added.
The BBC’s field trip was one of the activities offered by the Kuta Carnival, which kicked off Sunday. Featuring 33 activities varying from painting exhibitions to traditional martial art competition, the carnival is organized by the Kuta resident’s organization in cooperation with local and international companies.
The carnival will last until Oct.26.
As part of the so-called Blogger Day Out, the bloggers decided to visit two of the area’s icons, the Dharmayana Buddhist Monastery and the former Kuta Seaport.
The Dharmayana Buddhist Monastery, once known as the Leeng Gwan Kuta Temple, is located around two kilometers east of Kuta Beach.
Hindra Suarlim, chairman of the Dharma Semadi Foundation that runs the monastery’s daily operations, said that the temple was originally built at a different location in the area around two centuries ago.
“Our ancestors moved the monastery’s location after experiencing some mystical visions that told them to move it to the new location here,”he told the bloggers.
“The vision said that the new location would bring us more peace and prosperity.” The monastery was built by the Chinese community in Bali to honor Tan Hu Cin Jin, a noble and a multitalented Chinese architect who served the Mengwi king in Bali.
The story of Jin’s nobility attracts worshippers.
Today, many Chinese residents and visitors believe that offering prayers at the monastery will not only bring them peace of mind but also prosperity.
The monastery is acknowledged as one of Bali’s important Buddhist monasteries because dozens of monks from foreign countries, including His Majesty Dalai Lama XIV on Aug. 7, 1982, have visited the monastery to pray.
The Chinese community, which was famous for living alongside locals peacefully, regularly visited the monastery.
The way the community offered sacrifices during prayer sessions was the same as practiced by the locals, Suarlim said.
“We use gebogan (fruit bouquet) and canang (flower bouquet) during our praying sessions just like our Hindu brothers and sisters here,” he said.
The community’s ability to adapt to the area can be traced through the establishment of the Dharma Semadi community, where both the local Balinese and Chinese communities organize social activities together.
Furthermore, the Chinese community formed a banjar (customary village) resembling the locals’ way of organizing a community compound.
“Around 90 percent of people from the Chinese community have a mixed marriage with locals,” Adi Darmaja, another resident, said.
After visiting the temple, the bloggers then headed to the former Kuta Seaport at Jerman Beach, south of Kuta Beach. According to locals, the beach was named after the Germans who once resided there. At the time, the Germans were hired to build Ngurah Rai International Airport.
In the 18th century, Jerman Beach was an important part of Kuta Seaport, which later became the island’s trade centre, Nyoman Rika, head of Banjar Segara Kuta, said.
“At the time, a group of merchants from Tuban, East Java, were cast ashore on this beach. That is why locals have called this beach Boat Beach,” Rika told the bloggers.
In 2002, Rika added, the locals built a boat statue to honor the Tuban merchants.
The history of Jerman Beach can be traced from reports made by Pierre Dubois, a Dutch government representative who resided in Kuta in 1827.
According to Dubois’ reports, the Kuta region, once known as Coutaen, was the centre for commodity trade in and out of the island.
The reports also state that Kuta was once under the kingdom of Kesiman’s jurisdiction and that around 400 Balinese families, who mainly worked as sailors, were living in harmony with around 40 Chinese and Bugis households, who worked as merchants.