Bali, often referred to as The Island of God, is always associated with symbols; for instance, statues. Statues are one of exquisite artworks with remarkable aesthetic value, which specialize their existence.
Among these statues are Ganesh Statues, the sculpture of a human bodied, elephant headed God. This statue can be found almost everywhere in Bali. Holy places, like temples and historical palaces, are not the only spots where it appears. Ganesh Statue is commonly placed in schools, government institutions, banks, markets, as well as in usaha kegiatan perekonomian. It is set up in several hotels, inns, villas, woodlands, green areas, even at intersections of streets.
Hindu texts reveal that the most dominant sect in Bali is Shivaism, a Hindu principle which worships the God who destroys and recreates the universe. It is no wonder when the symbols of the God become widely popular. Shiva, who is also known as Bhatara Guru, has a son named Ganesh. Nowadays, Ganesh grows into a statue symbol, a familiar object to worship in all parts of life. What makes Ganesh to become such symbol?
Ganesh is named as the God of Knowledge and Intellect, the Protecting God, the God of Obstacles Remover, the God of Wisdom. The paintings and the statues of Ganesh are spread across Indonesia, India, Nepal, Tibet, and Southeast Asia. Ganesh is generally portrayed as the one with the head of elephant, four arms and fat figure. Ganesh is also known as Ganapati, Winayaka, Pilleyar, and Bhatara Gana in shadow puppet tradition. The worshippers of Ganesh come from Hindu community, Jaina, and Budha.
The belief of Ganesh is depicted as a symbol, in the form of a statue. This symbol is essentially used to pray for happiness and welfare. Ganesh statues are effortlessly seen in many places in Bali, built in various sculptures and levels, depend on the eight structures of the titles, forms, and functions of the statues.
Ganesh Mayuresvara is portrayed to be facing north, seated upon a peacock and a human skull. It sits cross-legged, his trunk twisted to the left, and his eyes attached by diamonds. People believe Ganesh Mayuresvara can grant their prayers to reach victory in wars. This type of statues is perfect to be situated in military, police, or security offices.
Ganesh SiddhiVinayaka is much like Mayuresvara, in which both of them are facing north. The differences between are Ganesh SiddhiVinayaka seated upon lotus and mouse, its trunk twisted to the right towards Pundit’s jar, four handed, in which the two in the front folded in “devapratistha” position, the left one grips ganitri, and the right one in the behind holds an axe. This statue is said to be useful to achieve success. It is generally found in offices, business companies or firms.
Ganesh Sri Ballaleshvar Vinayaka is facing east, with the trunk hung up in the center, two handed (the left one grips an axe, the right one grips a bludgeon). It is the symbol of protecting the nature and saving the forests.
Ganesh Varad Vinayaka is suitable to be placed in hospitals and doctor rooms, as it is believed to heal illnesses and diseases. The statue is depicted to be standing up with one leg (the right one), while the other one bound. The trunk hung up in the center, and the two hands of the statue are in “devapratistha” position. Similar to Ganesh Sri Ballaleshvar Vinayaka, Ganesh Varad Vinayaka is facing east as well.
Ganesh Chintamani-Vinayaka, another statue facing east, is an appropriate choice for educational institutions, such as schools. Ganesh Chintamani-Vinayaka is shown to be sitting upon a rock. It has diamond on its forehead, four hands (the left hind one holds a lotus, the right hind one has an axe, the left front one has a lontar or manuscript, and the right front one is blessing), and a trunk in the center.
Ganesh Girijatmaja and VighnesvaraVinayaka are typically located at certain temples in Bali. They seat upon a rock inside a cave, facing east. With four hands resembling chintamani-vinayaka, they have the trunk in the center as well. The last Ganesh called Sri Mahaganapati Ranjangon. Mostly situated at intersections of streets, this statue is characterized by seating cross-legged, having twenty arms (to hold four lotuses, two axes, four ganitris, four lontars, four jars, and two deva pratistha), and ten trunks which point to all the navigations of
This shows how special the role of statues in Bali is; it is not simply as a part of artworks nor sightseeing accessories. Aside from the uniqueness, statues are essential for Hindu people in performing rituals or spiritual activities. Being a part of symbols, statues are considered to be the physical manifestation of God, to stabilize and harmonize all aspects of life.
These days, the functions of statues keep evolving. The statues which are seen in temples also appear in households; the appearance comes in the form of contradictory characters, like giants and gods/goddesses; seen from the niskala (unseen) side, one of the roles of statues is to protect things from negativity as well as to neutralize it.
Ganesh statues are not the only sculptures found almost everywhere. Several statues, displayed as the mascots of several regions in Bali, are seen to be the magnet of tourism, in which their religious value is profound to bring about their existence. These statues include Catur Muka Statue in Denpasar, Dewa Ruci Statue at Sunset Road Intersection, Gatot Kaca Statue at Ngurah Rai Airport zone, Tuban, Garuda Wisnu Kencana in Jimbaran, Indra Statue and Huge Baby Statue in Gianyar, and many others.
Written by Agus Widiantara, translated: by Olwin Aldila