This is what you would call an architecture of reverence.
Everywhere in Bali, from big to small, you’ll see little totems of reverence, from shrines, statues, to temples. And this being an island, often the object of that reverence is water.
I don’t know if you can call this ‘worship of a god’ as some people would label it. That term sounds too much like it stems from a monotheistic, jealous-god-type religion. Here, the shrines are subtle. Women wake up early in the morning to fill it with offerings, in a natural, respectful way, not in a cowering, bow-before-my-wrath-type god.
Townspeople come out and conduct a ceremony before the water to ask it for its blessing.
Temples are placed on rocks in the middle of the ocean, accessible only during low tide.
Small shrines are everywhere.
There’s something in the Hindu faith that appeals to me, in these kinds of gestures and rituals as a way to express your respect for something.
And there’s something doubly more appealing about these gestures of respect for the ocean.
As surfers, we enter and exit the waves only by the grace of the ocean, which is indifferent to our wishes, desires, hopes. Sometimes the ocean feels like a wild vengeful spirit, sometimes it feels playful. Stay out in the water long enough, bobbing on the waves, and the ocean will make you feel part of it, the undulations returning you and your mind to something fundamental, grounded, and of the world.
To me these shrines are appropriate, whatever your faith. This is the right way to regard the ocean, which has the power to take away your life at any time. Reverence, and gratitude.