6. Temple Exchanges in Bali: People, Gods and the Sense of Touch

Religion and Touch - Christina Welch

Graeme MacRae [+-]
Massey University
Graeme MacRae did his PhD research in Bali in 1993-6 and he has returned there most years since. Ritual was central to his early research but his more recent focus has been on various intersections of development, environmental and food security issues. He has also conducted secondary research in (far north and far south) India. In his spare time he teaches anthropology at Massey University.


Hindu ritual is always and everywhere deeply sensory and sensual. In Bali this is spectacularly and famously obvious in temple ritual, which is a feast for all the senses, but least of all touch – apparently. But it is there between the lines – not highlighted, but in the background. In Tamil Nadu, a very different corner of the Hindu world, touch is more central, both ordinary touch and the subtle, extrasensory “touch” that occurs in darshan – the central moment in the ritual process. This chapter explores these spectrums of presence and absence of touch. It also “touches” upon the political-economic realities often obscured behind the sensory and symbolic feasts of ritual.

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MacRae, Graeme. 6. Temple Exchanges in Bali: People, Gods and the Sense of Touch. Religion and Touch. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Sep 2021. ISBN 9781800500334. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=42174. Date accessed: 16 Apr 2021 doi: 10.1558/equinox.42174. Sep 2021

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