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The Sacred Banyan Trees of Bali

Updated: Apr 5

Banyan trees are a sacred and integral part of Bali's landscape, distinguished by their aerial roots that mature into supporting trunks, typically seen in the Bengal ficus species.

These trees are renowned for their unique growth patterns; the aerial roots descend to the earth, becoming trunks themselves, which allows the tree to expand horizontally across the landscape. This process can lead to the tree 'walking' as it gradually shifts its center of mass, effectively moving its location over time.

Revered in temples and holy sites, they are considered the abode of spirits, from the souls of the deceased to gods and other supernatural beings. It is advised to avoid lingering under them at night due to the belief that certain malevolent spirits become more active after dark. Nevertheless, banyan trees symbolize the unity and resilience of life, mirroring the interconnectedness, adaptability, and eternity of the universe. They act as vital communal spaces by day and embody protection, harmonizing the natural with the spiritual in Balinese culture.

My documentation of these trees, taken during a visit a year ago, sought to capture their dynamic presence and the profound spiritual aura they hold. The video above shows a banyan tree in Bali's botanical gardens interacting with a Plants-Play kit, which converts changes in the plant's electrical conduction into an audio signal. Audio open!


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