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Cultures in Bali – Traditions – Ceremonies

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Bali? Who doesnt know about Bali? So many tourists make it as their first destination when come to Indonesia. Many people also make it as their honeymoon destination because Bali is beautiful and have so much culture inside which make them different with another islands, thats why its called as The Island of The Gods. Bali is one province in Indonesia with Denpansar as it capital city and total of the area is around 5.636,66 km2 or 0,29% part of Indonesia. Before we will know about Cultures in Bali, lets we talk about the their religion, which is the very basic thing and affect the whole culture in there.

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1. Balinese-Hinduism

Balinese-hinduism also called as agama Hindu Dharma which originated come from Java and as result of Shivaism and Buddhism. The theological foundation for the religion in Bali comes from Indian philosophy while the indigenous beliefs come from the backbone for the rituals. In Balinese Hinduism, indigenous beliefs is come to believe which nature is a “power” and each elements has influence from spirits. Balinese also believe if there have ancestor and they have to remember as part of them and respect it with doing some feted with give them some agricultural products sometime or when theres a special ceremonies.

Balinese-hinduism also have some pillars for what they believed, which are belief in the one supreme God, belief in the soul as apart of universal principle of life and consciousness, belief in the fruition of one’s deeds, belief in theres process of birth and death, also believe in ultimate releave.

People in there also has some variety names for their God, which are multiples and all pervadin called as ultimate void as Surya and other can called as Sung Hyang Embang or Sang Hyang Paramakawi. However, Balinese also believe theres some God for different sources, like Brahma for God of creation, Wisnu for God of providence, and Siwa for bad one which is God of dissolution.

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Those Balinese also make caste in their social life but more simpler than the original which come from India. There are four caste which can we see here, theyre: Sundas – the caste who comprises over 50% population, Wesias – the warrior caste which also include trades of kings, and the highest caste is Pedanas – the holy men and priest. We also can know someone caste from their name, such as Ida Bagus for Brahman, Anak Agung or Dewa for satrias, and the last is I Gusti for wesias.

2. Bali Traditional House (Kuren)

Like another region, Bali also has their traditional house which we can called as Kuren and have five basic elements, which are: the door way with screen on and split arch, the main sleeping area with open verandah, raised barn for storing rice, and the last is room to do their needs: kitchen and bathing. Theres may also extra area, which are usually work shop and family temple. To build this Bali traditional house, theres a holy guidance and the oldest guidance called as Lontar Asta Kosala Kosali and theres another guidance for another structure too.

Like we can see in those picture, room number 1 is family temple which we called as Sanggah or Merajan is place to worship the ancestor. We can see theres place to receiving guest for family ceremony, and theres protective wll or aling-aling which behind the gates to deflect the malign influences.

The kitchen in the house should be south part because the assiciation with Brahma (God of fire). Some of Bali traditional house still made from alang-alang, sewn into the ribs or coconut palm leaves which set closely together and tied into bamboo or coconut wood roof frame with hard-wearing sugar palm fibre. This roof can last up until 50 years.

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3. Balinese Ceremonies

Some people said theres never a day without ceremony in Bali. We can say its true because Bali has lot ceremonies in ther life cycle rites, start from baby ceremonym puberty rides, weddings, cremation, also temple festivals. Bali is not only beatiful of the scenery, but also for the uniqueness of the ceremony. Theres also some family celebrations but we cant see that in short time because we need to become close friends with local people then we can invited to some sacred ceremonies. But dont worry, theres also lot (more than enough) public ceremonies we can attend and we can enjoy that with free!

ATemple ceremony (Odalan)

Every temples and srine in Bali has annual ceremony which blessed for the first time or the day when Balinese Hindus come to bring offerings and pray in those temple. This ceremony usually lasts for three days but the larger one (which only occur in 5, 10, 30, or even 100 years) can last until 11 days or longer.

The temple will be dressed up in colorful clothes which showed us with the duties taken to the local holy spring to be bathed and dressed in their best, shrinnes are cleaned, committees are form then the ceremony is start! People will take the offerings in their heads, which consist of some fruits, rice cakes, also flower and will be placed in strategic points around the temple.

After that, the offering wlll be blessed by the temple priest and they can bring offering to home again and share it with their family because God already leaving the “left overs” for humans to consume.

This ceremony isnt over yet because in the evening we will watch another spectacular performance of music and dance by local groups. We can see this ceremony all around Bali because every village at least have three major temples and there will be religious activity every 210 days. What we have to remember during the ceremony are not to bring any food inside, being ill (mentally or physically), being in state of mourning, or having given birth within the past 42 days.

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B. Nyepi

Nyepi is popular ceremony as the largest celebration in Bali and claimed as most unique one because everyone can experience the most enjoyable 24 hours with clean air and zero emissions, because everyone who stays in Bali not to be allowed to do anything and go anywhere in that day. On this new years’ eve, the villages are cleaned, food is cooked for two days, and in the evening as much noice is mad as possible to scare away the evil spirits.

Tourist who stays in Bali during Nyepi also not allowed to leave hotel complexes. Every year, Nyepi is celebrated according to cake luna callendar and falls at the time of new moon in the months of March or April.

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This ritual begin from two days before Nyepi which we called it as Melasti ceremony, which in this ceremony hundreds of people who come from each village will carry temple artifacts to beaches or purification. Those procession start from early morning and people will wear bright clothes and join the procession. The women carry tall offerings which consist of fruits, cooked rice, and some natural foods of their heads while the man walk along them and holding long sheet of yellow and white cloth symbolizing the Bridge of God. This ceremony will end in the early evening and intended as spiritual purification for the whole village.

Theres also a ceremony one day before Nyepi which we called as Tawur Kesanga or Pengerepuk, is the day which evil spirits are driven away. Villages and neighborhoods are cleaned, food served for 2 days, and at dusk people start to bang pots and pans also carry torches through their houses. After that, they will get outside and join the others to make fearful sounds and sprinkling rice over the alley ways and roads. We also can see Ogah-ogah, which demon represent the mythical giant Bhuta kala and symbolized evil. This also become the day when cock fighting is permitted because the spelling of bloods is important for the purpose of purifications. The offerings will be totally different than Melasti ceremony because its smelly and include bloods, like small chickens which sacrificed and will be put in the roads. Everybody join in to help by beating pots and tin cans, make lot noise which called as mabuu-buu and children go around the village to meet their friends.

On Nyepi day, Hindu Balinese will stop all their worldly and physical activities for 24 hours and use that day for practice yoga semedi and catur berata penyepinan of the four absences. Everyone will stays inside their house but theyre not allowed to speak to each others, answer the telephone, receiving any guest, watch television, use any appliances, lights also not allowed to be turn on; including stoves or even cigarettes. They also not allowed to eat and drinking and not supposed to do any work. Its a day of self control and instropection in order to achieve spiritual purification. Only emerging services and hospitals are allowed to operate as usual, and all airports also closed for 24 hours with no flight arriving or departing. After that day over, they will visit their family and friends to ask for forgiveness to the mistakes theyve made and we called it as Ngembak Geni.

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4. Balinese Dance

Dance from Bali also famous one because really showed the culture and how religious people in Bali are. We usually can see this dance while in tour and have to some tickets to watch it. So, whats the popular dance in Bali?

A.Kecak fire dance

Visiting Bali without watch their art performances wont be wonderful experiences. Kecak fire dance is one of most iconic Balinese dance and its dominant use of human vocals in place of gamelan instruments to accompany the dance-drama at its core.

The best place to watch this dance is at the cliff top amphiteatre located in south of Uluwatu temple and we also need buy a ticket which the price range from Rp.70.000-Rp.100.000,00. This dance usually will be start around 10 AM and we gonna watch the trope of around 75 males dancer descent into the stage with extended arms and shaking hands up in the air while chanting their fast-paced and shout “chak!” repetitively.

In those trope, some people has some important roles, such as someone who give the tones early as we know he is a leader, someone as a suppressor in charge of pressure of high or low tone, someone as solo singer, and someone else act as mastermind behind to tell the story.

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In kecak fire dance, theres a story behind it and the synopsis is about Sri Rama, prince of Ayodya kingdom was sent into exile by his father, King Dasaratha following an evil trick by his step mother, Karkeyi. In monkey forest, Ramayana is accompanied by Sita, his wife and also Laksamana, which is his younger brother. Rahwana who also has a crush with Sita know about this news and try to kidnap her but its failed because Ramayana get a help from Hanoman and his monkey troops. Finally, Ramayana and Sita can be back together right after the sunrise.

B. Barong

Barong is the mythological lion considered to be a good king. In traditional Balinese, Barong representing good and fight against the evil spirits, and defeats it. In this dance, the dancer wear the mask of lion and this performance begins with two monkey teasing Barong in the forest. In next few scenes, we will see a keris dane, its when evil of spirit, Randa cast the black costumes and these end with the ommited suicide by stabbing themselves.

In the final scene, we can know if the good win over the evil which means Randa ran away from the kingdom. Gamelan also played in this performance which make it more unique. We can watch this dance in Batu bulan village, in the morning around 9.30 AM and usually last for an hour. Somebody can die or seriously injured in Barong dance because when Randa’s spell is too strong, a weak soilders may not be able to resist it and end up hurting himself wiith his own keris.

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Thats what we should know about Cultures in Bali, The Island of Gods with lot of cultures and more when we are visiting there. Interesting and beautiful one, right?

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