The soul behind every ceremony and sacred event, but also of shows, events, performances and concerts, the gamelan orchestra is a gathering of voices and Indonesian instruments, typical of the islands of Java and Bali, composed of metallophones (kemanak and gangsa), drums, tambourines (kendang), xylophones, bows, bamboo flutes (suling) and gongs, harmonised and tuned according to the type of event for which they are played. A fundamental element of Balinese culture, the first example of gamelan was created in the Saka era of the King of Java, Sang Hyang Guru, who used two gongs to call upon the gods. Since every single musical tone symbolises God, from the very act of approaching the instrument, a sacred object respected as such by the musicians, every gesture and action is part of a celebrative ritual - the way of sitting, the attention to posture as one plays and the methodical and lengthy commitment to learning to play, both alone and in harmony with the group. Panca Gita are the five songs, or sounds, required according to Hindu tradition, for a religious rite to be considered complete, and the gamelan represents the sound that maps out every moment. There are three groups of Balinese gamelan , subdivided according to age, from the most ancient to the most contemporary - Gamelan Wayha, Gamelan Madya and Gamelan Anyar. They may also be categorised based on the materials of which the instruments are made, whether in iron (Gamelan Slonding), bronze (Gamelan Krawang) or bamboo (Rindik). The artisans of the tiny village of Tihingan exhibit, outside their shops, a sign which declares "Gong Smith". Here, since the start of the XVI Century, this ancestral craft has been passed down from generation to generation, recognised as an immaterial national cultural heritage of Indonesia, in 2014, by the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture and by UNESCO in 2021. Famed composer Claude Debussy, upon hearing a group play at the World’s Fair in Paris in 1889, was so fascinated that, subsequently, gamelan influences could be found in many of his works.
The Melasti Ceremony is the largest Hindu purification ritual.
Thousands of religious pilgrims, visitors and photographers crowd the area of the legendary Tanah Lot, the Hindu temple which floats over the sea, built on a rocky island which can only be reached at low tide.