Bali Indonesia is truly a very unique place. From the timeless traditions of a rare culture, to the more modern wonder of Exotic Bali
Villas and Bali villa, Bali holidays. The people of Bali island possess a genuine sense of inner happiness that is perhaps attributed to their
strong Hindu faith. There is a fundamental belief here in the spiritual world which should always be in balance and harmonize with the
physical world to attain peace and prosperity. As a visitor to Bali island enjoying Bali holidays, you will share first-hand in the wonder
that is Bali Indonesia.
History Of Bali Indonesia
Although there are no found artifacts or recordings dating back to the Stone Age, it is believed that the first settlers on Bali island came
from China around 2500 BC. By the Bronze age, around 300 B.C an evolved and new cultured people existed in Bali Indonesia. The
complex system of irrigation and rice production that is still in use today was established around this time. History is very vague for the
first few centuries however. A number of then Hindu artifacts have been found and date back to the 1st century, yet it appears that the
main religion, around 500 AD was predominantly Buddhist in influence. A Chinese scholar named Yi-Tsing, in 670 AD reported on a trip
to India, that he had visited a Buddhist country called Bali.
It was not until the early 11th century that Bali received the first strong influx of Hindu and Javanese cultures. With the death of his
father around AD 1011, the Balinese Prince Airlanggha moved to East Java and set about uniting it's people under one principality.
Having succeeded, he then appointed his brother Anak Wungsu as ruler of Bali. From this time there was a reciprocation of political and
artistic ideas. The old Javanese language 'Kawi' became the language used by the aristocracy, one of the many Javanese traits and
customs adopted by the cause.
With the death of Airlanggha in the middle of the 11th century, Bali island enjoyed autonomy. However this proved to be not lasting, as in
1284 the East Javanese king Kertanegara conquered Bali and ruled over it from Java. In 1292 Kertanegara was murdered and Bali took
the opportunity to liberate and free itself once more. This did not last and by 1343 Bali was again to come under Javanese control, by it's
defeat at the hands of Gajah Mada, the last great general of the great Hindu-Javanese empires, the Majapahit. With the spread of Islam
throughout Sumatra and Java during the 16th century, the Majapahit Empire began to collapse and a large exodus of aristocracy, priests,
artists and artisans flooded into Bali. For a time Bali again flourished and the following centuries were considered the Golden Age of
Bali's cultural history. The principality of Gelgel, near Klungkung became a major centre for the Arts and Bali became the major power of
the region, taking control of neighboring Lombok and parts of East Java.
The European Influence On Bali Indonesia
The first Dutch seamen came to Bali island in 1597. However is was not until the late 1800's that the Dutch showed an interest in
colonizing the island of Bali. In 1846 having had large areas of Indonesia under their control since the 1700's, the Dutch government sent
the troops into northern Bali. In 1894 Dutch forces joined with the Sasak people of Lombok to defeat their Balinese rulers. By 1911, all
the Balinese principalities had either been defeated in battle or had surrender, leaving the whole island under Dutch control. After World
War I Indonesian nationalist sentiment was increasing and in 1928 Bahasa Indonesia was declared the official national language. During
World War II the Dutch were expelled by the Japanese, who occupied Indonesia from 1942 to 1945.
After the Japanese defeat the Dutch tried to regain control of their former colonies, but on August 17th 1945 Indonesia was declared
independent by its first President Sukarno. After four years of fighting and strong criticism from the international community, the Dutch
government finally conceded and in 1949, Indonesia was recognized as an independent country.
The People Of Bali Indonesia
Life in Bali is very much communal as the organization of villages, farming and even the creative arts of Bali are decided by the
community. Local government is responsible for schools, clinics, hospitals and roads, but all other aspects of life are placed in the hands
of two traditional committees, whose roots in Balinese culture stretch back centuries. The first is the 'Subak' and their main concerns are
the production of rice. This committee organizes and controls the complex irrigation system. Everyone who owns a sawah or padi field
must join their local Subak, which then ensures that every member gets his fair distribution of irrigation water. Traditionally the head of
the Subak has his sawah or rice padi right at the very bottom of the hill, so that the water has to pass through every other sawah before
The other community committee and organization is the Banjar, that arranges all village festivals, marriage ceremonies, cremations, as
well as a form of community service known as Gotong Royong. Most villages have at least one Banjar and all males have to join one
when they marry. Banjar's on average have a membership of between 50 to 100 families and each Banjar has its own meeting place
called the Bale Banjar. As well as being used for regular meetings, the Bale (pavilion) is where the local gamelan orchestras and drama
groups practice. Each stage of Balinese life is marked by a series of ceremonies and rituals known as Manusa Yadnya. They contribute
to the rich, varied and active life the average Balinese leads.
Each and every stage of Balinese life is marked by a series of complex ceremonies and rituals known as Manusa Yadnya. They
contribute to the very rich and varied life the average Balinese person leads.
The first ceremony of Balinese life takes place even before birth. Another ceremony takes place soon after the birth, during which the
afterbirth is buried with appropriate offerings. The first major ceremony takes place halfway through the baby's first Balinese year of
Names On Bali Island
Basically the Balinese people only have four first names. The first child is named Wayan or Putu, the second child is Made or Kadek, the
third is Nyoman or Komang and the fourth is Ketut. The fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth will be another Wayan, Made, Nyoman,
Ketut and Wayan again.
The Balinese certainly love children and they have plenty of them to prove it. Coping with a large family is made much easier by the
policy of putting younger children in the care of older ones. After the ceremonies of babyhood come ceremonies marking the stages of
childhood and puberty, including the important tooth-filing ceremony.
Every Balinese person expects to marry and raise a family. Marriage takes places at a comparatively young age. Marriages are not in
general arranged as they are in many other Asian communities, although strict rules apply to marriages between the castes. There are
two basic forms of marriage in Bali - mapadik and ngorod. The respectable form in which the family of the man visit the family of the
woman and politely propose that a marriage take place, this is mapadik. The other option is elopement (ngorod). The couple go into
hiding. Eventually the couple re-emerge, announce that it is too late to stop them now and the marriage is officially recognized.
Men & Women
There are certain tasks clearly to be handled by women and others reserved for men. Social life in Bali is relatively free and easy. In
Balinese leisure activities the roles are also sex differentiated. Both men and women dance but only men play the gamelan. Today you do
see some women painters, sculptors, and woodcarvers.
Balinese have an amazingly active and organized village life. You simply cannot be a faceless nonentity in Bali. You can't help but get to
know your neighbors as your life is so entwined and interrelated with theirs.
Death & Cremation
There are ceremonies for every stage of Balinese life but often the last ceremony-cremation-is the biggest. A Balinese cremation can be
an amazing, colorful, noisy and exciting event. In fact it often takes so long to organize a cremation that years have passed since the
death. During that time the body is temporarily buried. Of course an auspicious day must be chosen for the cremation and since a big
cremation can be very expensive business many less wealthy people may take the opportunity of joining in at a larger cremation and
sending their own dead on their way at the same time.
The Balinese are Hindu, yet their religion is very different from that of the Indian variety. They do have a caste system, but there are no
untouchables and occupation is not governed by caste. In fact, the only thing that reflects the caste system is the language which has
three tiers; 95% of all the Balinese are Hindu Dharma and speak Low or Everyday Balinese with each other. Middle Balinese is used for
talking to strangers at formal occasions or to people of the higher Ksatriya caste. High Balinese is used when talking to the highest class,
the Brahmana or to a pedanda (priest). It may sound complicated, but most of the words at the low and medium levels are the same,
whereas High Balinese is a mixture of Middle Balinese and Kawi, the ancient Javanese language.
The Balinese worship the Hindu trinity Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu, who are seen as manifestations of the Supreme God Sanghyang
Widhi. Other Indian gods like Ganesha (the elephant-headed god) also often appear, but more commonly one will see shrines to the many
gods and spirits that are uniquely Balinese. Balinese believe strongly in magic and the power of spirits and much of their religion is based
upon this. They believe that good spirits dwell in the mountains and that the seas are home to demons and ogres. Most villages have at
least three main temples; the Pura Puseh (or temple of origin), faces the mountains and is dedicated to the village founders. The Pura
Desa (or village temple), is normally found in the centre and is dedicated to the welfare of the village. The Pura Dalem is aligned with the
sea and is dedicated to the spirits of the dead. Aside from these 'village' temples almost every house has its own shrine and you can also
find monuments dedicated to the spirits of agriculture, art and all other aspects of life. Some temples like Pura Besakih for example, on
the slopes of Mount Agung are considered especially important and people from all over Bali travel to worship there.
Offerings play a significant role in Balinese life as they appease the spirits and thus bring prosperity and good health to the family. Every
day small offering trays (canang sari) containing symbolic food, flowers, cigarettes and money are placed on shrines in temples outside
houses and shops and even at dangerous crossroads.
Festivals are another great occasion for appeasing the gods. The women bear huge beautifully arranged pyramids of food, fruit and
flowers on their heads, while the men might conduct a blood sacrifice through a cockfight. There are traditional dances, music and the
gods are invited to come down to join in the festivities. The festivals are usually very exciting occasions and well worth observing if you
are in the area. A crucial thing to remember, if you wish to join in celebrations or enter a temple, is that there are a number of rules that
have to be respected.
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