The villagers of Belega in Blahbatuh, Gianyar, have an interesting story to tell to the visitors to the area. It’s about the deities inhabiting Belega’s village temple, Pura Dalem.

The Pura Dalem in Belega village may seem like a regular temple found in other villages throughout Bali, but upon closer inspection, you’ll notice that the two statues guarding the entrance gate are wearing police uniforms. And, no, they are not the remnants of the Halloween party last month.

It’s told that there were nights when a number of police officers  were seen conducting a raid by the giant, old banyan tree in front of the temple. These police officers would stop the motorists passing by the temple, and ask to see the driver’s licence and vehicle registration. You may have seen such a raid taking place somewhere along the By Pass or Sunset Road.

Anyway, a Belega villager named Suyasa told us about his experience with the temple’s ‘policeman’. “One night I was pulled over by a number of police officers in front of Pura Dalem. I reached for my wallet to get my driver’s licence and registration. But when I looked back up, the policemen were gone.” Suyasa was not the only one to have experienced this, for there were other villagers and passers by who also have experienced the same, strange occurrence. Of course, the policemen looked like normal people, unlike the ones portrayed by the statue, a man with a wavy beard that goes down past his chin.

The villagers believe that the police officers are the deities inhabiting their village temple, and that they are the soldiers of Ida Bhatara Dalem, the ruler of the temple. The ‘policemen’ will never harm anyone, and they’d only appear to those being disrespectful to the sacred area of the temple. “Maybe I got stopped because I didn’t honk as I approached the temple. We, the Balinese, believe that there are the unseen habitants living around us, especially in big banyan trees and temples. Honking means we’re telling them ‘sorry to disturb you, but we need to pass this area’. It’s our way to show respect,” Suyasa concluded.

In addition to the police statues, there’s also one inside the temple wearing the outfit of a prosecutor. No one in the village, including the elders, knows about the history of the law enforcement deities inhabiting their temple. All they know is that the Pura Dalem in their village is a ‘must-visit temple’ for those wishing to become a police officer, judge, or lawmaker to come and pray.

Namhar Hernanto

Namhar Hernanto

One of NOW! Bali's previous but long-standing editors who enjoys all of Bali’s offerings. On weekdays he enjoys deliberately getting lost, taking the wrong turn in distant villages, seeing what travel treasures he may find. Weekends are for indulgence, where you may catch him imbibing on a classic cocktail or savouring the pleasures of a fine dining establishment.