Bali is one of the 17 thousand Indonesian islands located in the southeastern part of the country between the islands of Java and Lombok. In otherwise Muslim Indonesia, Bali is the only Hindu island and also the most popular tourist destination in the country.
The Island of the Gods, as Bali is called, is absolutely unique because of its rich culture. At every step you will come across colorful offerings to the gods, temples to look at, or traditional music, processions and dances during the festive ceremonies.
But the main thing that makes Bali such a wonderful place is the local people. Generous and cordial. With sincere smiles for everyone and a willingness to always help.
Bali is an area of beautiful rice fields and ancient monuments, as well as busy evening life and surfing. Here you will find a colorful underwater world with coral reefs and tall volcanoes with endless views. Everybody can find his own here!
Hinduism as a Balinese lifestyle
More than 95% of the locals profess Balinese Hinduism called Agama Hindu Dharma, who, like traditional Hinduism, worships the three gods Brahmā, Vishnu and Shiva (so-called Trimūrti). Brahma is symbolized in red and is considered the creator of the universe. Vishnu is known as the protector or God of providence and his color is black. Shiva, on the other hand, is a God of distraction, a destroyer, but also a creator of constant transformation and associated with white.
Hinduism sees the world as an ordered whole, where every living creature and every thing has its place. Everything is interacting with each other, and nothing that happens is a mere coincidence. Emphasis is also placed on the duality of phenomena and the effort to strike a balance between opposing forces – divine (creative) and demonic (destructive) forces. Time is perceived cyclically in Hinduism. The world does not last forever, but within the so-called cosmic cycle it is going through an ever-ending process of birth, balance and destruction.
Hindus believe in reincarnation, that is, the soul will be reborn in another body after death. Where and under what conditions rebirth occurs determines the karma that man creates through his good and bad actions throughout his life.
Swastika: symbolizes the universe and its movement
Om: a sacred syllable, beginning with Hindu texts and mantras
The lives of local people are inherently linked to religion. This is evidenced by the huge number of temples, which is reportedly on the island of over 100 thousand. Small shrines are also an essential part of every household. The Balinese believe that the island is inhabited by supernatural beings and omnipresent gods, and that their ancestors are returning to the places they once lived to protect their families. Therefore, they worship the Gods and souls of the deceased ancestors, and offer them every day the sacrifices they place on the altar throughout the house and on the street in front of the house. The sacrifices are usually composed of flowers, rice, sweets or pieces of fruit, which are inserted into small cups of palm leaves. Essentials are also incense sticks, which are stabbed into the sacrifices so that the gods can easily find them.
Castes and social arrangements in Bali
The social order of the Balinese population is influenced by their caste membership. The highest caste is the Brahmans, who were originally priests and scholars of religious and holy texts. The second caste is Kshatriya (the caste of kings) historically involving soldiers and warriors. Another caste is the Vaisi, which included merchants, craftsmen and farmers. The last caste for the peasants and the lowest class of inhabitants is Shudra. More than 90% of the island’s inhabitants belong to this caste.
Although the caste system is no longer officially used in Bali, the caste distribution still has a number of impacts on social relations. For example, even in a normal call, the Balinese adapt the language according to which caste the person with whom they speak. He speaks and acts very respectfully with a man from a higher caste than himself. The caste to which the family belongs also at marriage. A man from a higher caste can marry a woman from a lower caste. However, if a woman from a higher caste marries a man from a lower caste, she loses her affiliation to a higher caste by this marriage.
When staying in Bali for a long time, it is important to note that the names of the locals are very often repeated. Balinese residents do not have a surname, and the names are given to children according to the order in which they were born. In the most numerous caste of the Sudra, the following names can be found:
If more than four children are born, this order is used again and again, and the fifth child can be called Wayan, like his eldest sibling. Moreover, most names are the same for both boys and girls. For gender differentiation, the prefix “I” for men and “Ni” for women are added before the name.