The cultural life of Ubud is inextricably bound up with the practices of Balinese Hinduism, which accounts for around 90% of religious devotion on the island. Spiritual devotion is evident all around. Every family compound, shop and business contains a small temple, and you’ll witness the dispersal of offerings, sprinkled with holy water and accompanied by a stick of incense, several times a day.
It’s near-impossible to spend a couple of days in Ubud without seeing streams of local people in a street procession, wearing traditional temple dress, children on their shoulders or held by the hand, women carrying exquisite conical fruit-laden offerings-baskets on their heads, groups of men playing drums and gongs in a cacophony of sound on the way to the temple. While you go about your daily business you’ll hear the stirrings of gamelan, the fevered cries of kecak or the clash of cymbals emerging from temple entrance-ways; you might even happen upon a funeral pyre.
The clash between tradition and progress is never better captured than at those moments when you see a dancer in full dress and make-up at a luridly lit convenience store purchasing a pack of cigarettes, or re-fuelling a motorbike at the petrol station, or transporting several child-dancers in full regalia on the back of a scooter.
Daily life is certainly a feast for the eyes here; even as modern living takes over more and more, there are still heightened aesthetics in everything the Balinese do.