CulturallyOurs Understanding Bali Culture And Lifestyle

Understanding Balinese Culture And Lifestyle

CulturallyOurs Understanding Bali Culture And Lifestyle

Today we head on over to Bali to explore Balinese culture and understand the traditions and lifestyle of one of the most beautiful islands around the world.

Bali which is know as the Island Of The Gods– home to endless ancient temples, magnificent centuries-old architecture and exotic landscapes. Characterized by countless rice fields, traditional, flavorful cuisine and many traditional ceremonies, the one thing that really stands out is the relevance of their own type of religion – Bali Hinduism – in their daily lives. Even though Indonesia has over 80% the world’s largest Muslim nation, the unique Balinese culture remains. Perhaps which is why it has became more and more a popular mainstream travel destination.

Paula Saafeld who earlier shared how to travel mindfully through Mallorca Spain, which is considered among one of the most popular islands among tourists, today takes us on a cultural adventure through Bali, exploring the lifestyle and traditions of the Balinese people. CulturallyOurs Understanding Bali Culture and LifestyleFrom Paula,

The Bali religion combines elements of animism, ancestor worship and Hinduism. Hindu influences reached the Indonesian Archipelago as early as the first century. There are two major theories for the arrival of Hinduism. The first belief is that South Indian sea traders brought Hinduism with them. The second describes how Indonesian royalty first embraced Indian religion and culture. Then soon after, the masses followed in the footsteps of their kind and leaders. After that Hinduism developed in Bali through several steps into its present syncretistic form. Today, the religion plays a huge part of everyday life in Bali.

The Balinese, like their Indian Hindu co-religionists, believe in the trimurti of Brahma, Wisnu (Vishnu) and Siwa (Shiva), as well as other minor deities and spirits in the Hindu pantheon. They believe the gods simply represent individual aspects of one God, whom they call Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa.

Balinese culture of balance

The individual, in the Balinese universe, is just one part of a greater whole.

Individuals form a microcosm (bhuwana alit), a part of the greater macrocosm (bhuwana agung), which is encompassed by the Supreme God (Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa). To live as a Balinese is to strive to keep these three in equilibrium.

They have strong belief on the existence of Betari Ibu Pertiwi (Mother of Nature) as one of the worshiped Goddesses and believe in the existence of ancestors. Therefore they really try and aim to live in harmony with nature. For the purpose of maintaining balance, not only are the gods of Bali provided for and worshipped, but so are the ancestors and decrease spirit.

Bali culture maintain that the entirety in Animism has a soul, therefore, the objects and forces of nature want to be pleased to remain balanced. The thought of mankind having no control over Mother Nature drives the Balinese people to look to their ancestors for help with weather-related troubles. They perform many rituals and ceremonies as it relates to appeasing their ancestors, honor their Gods and praying to the spirit world.CulturallyOurs Understanding Bali Culture And LifestylePhoto by Sebastia GalbanyCulturallyOurs All About Balinese Culture CulturallyOurs All About Balinese CultureOnce a year, the people from Bugbug get together for a 3 day ceremony called Usaba Manggung to release all the evil spirits within and around them to honor their God. To express their devotion and find peace from the ill, they get themselves into a state of trance, appearing to be possessed and out of their minds, screaming, and dancing. The holy water, splashed or poured on their heads, will finally give them the desired relief and the affirmation that they have been released. The rite also includes long praying sessions, offerings, and traditional dances performed by men and women.

Nature as a core part of Bali culture

The rich culture of the island can be admired from the wonderful temples and the endless heritage of dances, songs and ceremonies of the local population. Besides that, many people are coming to Bali because they are fascinated by its wild nature, pristine forests, rich flora and varied fauna, beaches and breathtaking waterfalls. If you take a minute to step away from the hustle and tourism, you will see Bali’s real nature.
CulturallyOurs Understanding Bali Culture And Lifestyle
A special energy encompasses every rice field, every smile, and connection you make. It’s really fascinating to stroll amongst local farmlands of cacao, coffee, bananas, traditional varieties of rice, coconuts and tropical fruits and of course the well-known rice paddies. These amazingly green rice fields are a great way to get your self acquainted with rural Bali and see why the terraces have been listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO.CulturallyOurs Understanding Bali Culture And Lifestyle

Over-tourism impacts on Bali culture and lifestyle

Today, Bali is less idyllic than it was during the early days. It has experienced terror attacks, the rise of concrete chain hotels, and unsustainable tourism. But this island truly changes perspectives and brings a lifetime of lessons, even in a short period of time.

Going back to Bali has allowed me to get a deeper insight into Bali culture, but I also realized that the tourism has increased immensely on this tiny island. Compared to just a few years ago, the numbers or travelers visiting Bali has gone up rapidly, which is very noticeable looking at the nature and all the other ecological footprints, left by the western world. These imbalances in the environment are a huge contrast to the holistic lifestyle and philosophy of the Balinese. Throughout my stay, I learned that especially the seeking after balance is the central concept that influences and motivates Balinese culture and daily life in all aspects.

In contrast to that – one of the biggest imbalances and problems in Bali is the trash and especially the plastic. There is no proper waste disposal program on the island, because in most of Bali’s history packaging was made of banana leaves and the excess plastic is now literally flooding the island. They not only end up at roadsides, in the forests, rivers and lakes, but also in the sea. The Balinese often burn their plastic, as they are used to do so from their regular biological waste. The resulting toxic gases, in addition to the already strong traffic emissions, are not beneficial, especially for their health.CulturallyOurs Understanding Bali Culture And LifestyleFor me it was definitely hard to see how the island suffers from the tourism, of which I was also a part of and contributed to it. There is always more behind beautiful pictures that we see online. I really think that this beautiful island needs to recover in the upcoming years and I hope that others who have Bali on their bucket list will become more aware of this too, so that this unique culture can sustain itself in the future.

Have you been to Bali? What were your impressions of this island of the Gods?

{Words and photos by Paula Saalfeld (unless otherwise noted); Instagram: @plantifultaste

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Leave your comments below

  1. Jenn says:

    Overtourism is of particular interest to me and I was glad to see that you touched on it in this post. I know Bali is struggling with this.