Subak is a UNESCO World Heritage site

Subak is an ecofriendly method of irrigating water, guided by the religious and cultural beliefs of the island and combining sophisticated technical and social concepts.

This irrigation system, which dates back to the 9th century but is still in use today, can be found in the agricultural areas of Bali and stretches through terraced rice fields and even connects the fields to nearby temples. Temple priests who practice Tri Hita Karana, a philosophy that seeks to bring harmony to the spiritual, human, and natural worlds, keep an eye on water management.

By including devotees in ritual themes that stress need on the life-sustaining forces of the natural world, water temples foster harmonious interactions between humans and their surroundings.

Rice is seen as a staple component of Indonesian food

Almost no food across Indonesia is served without rice. It is also considered a divine gift from the Goddess of Rice & Fertility, Ida Bhatari Sri. Every Wednesday that falls on the twenty-eighth week of Balinese calendar is a special devotion day for Dewi Sri. Apart from the dense of urban population and the splendor of touristic areas in South of Bali, Balinese is considered as one of the most productive rice growers in the country.

Maintaining the Subak water irrigation system

The cascading formation of rice terraces is one of the keys to cultivate rice fields in high-steep area like slopes of mountains. Each plot of rice field (sawah in Indonesian) is irrigated and contained, flowing onto the next in a rhythmic pattern of water gliding across bamboo sleeves. Every farmer usually owns one or more sawah and must join a Subak community, an agricultural society that controls the distribution of irrigation water to its members.

Subak ensures the smaller farm workers water continues to flow, guarding irrigation channels against trespassers, repairing any damages in the dikes, and plan feasts on important occasions, like the completion of a harvest. Given how hard it is to get water to flow from the water temples, Subak associations are important to the Balinese people’s prosperity.

The headwaters in the island’s irrigations system are lake temples dedicated to the goddess of the water, Ida Bethari Danu (Pura Ulun Danu Bratan and Pura Ulun Danu Batur). The Balinese believe that water is also a divine gift, and so before the fields are planted, offerings are made to gain the goodwill of deities who provide water and favorable conditions for a successful harvest. Everything that will be carried out in the fields are overseen by the temple priests, such as when to start planting the seeds, harvesting, and the schedule for water allocation.