20 Social Etiquette in Bali – Characteristics

Bali is a province and also an island in one of the archipelago countries in the world, Indonesia. Bali Province itself also includes Bali Island (or Dewata Island), Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan Island. Most Balinese people are Hinduism (about 83.5% of the population), and the rests are including Muslim (13.4%), Christianity (2.5%) and Buddhism (0.5%).

In addition, Bali is one of the most beautiful and prestigious tourist destinations in the world. Tourists from many foreign countries have already visited Bali, and these led to number one economic’s growth aspect in Bali. Despite of its beautiful beaches and highly good services, Balinese people that are mostly Hinduism surely have their standard of customs and etiquettes. So, tourists are expected to respect the etiquettes and hopefully can also be able to follow the customs and norms while visiting Bali. Hereby the social etiquettes that you shall probably know while living in Bali :

1. If you are invited to any of traditional or religious ceremony in Bali, try to be able to come

Balinese people are very religious and uphold their norms and customs. As people whom the region’s customs are still very strong, they often make some religious and traditional ceremonies because the ceremonies are needed. So, do not be surprised if you find many ceremonies that occurs in Bali since you set the foot on Bali for the first time.

Moreover, if you are invited to join the ceremony by Balinese people, try your best so that you can attend it. If needed, cancel any plan of afternoon walk or another that is not necessary and can be done anytime because the ceremony in Bali is really important by Balinese people. So, if you are invited, it means that you are precious to them and they really want you to join in.

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2. While joining any of the ceremony in Bali, keep up until all the rituals end

If you are able to attend a ceremony or any traditional event in Bali, then you also need to follow the further rules. You must attend the event until the end. You are not allowed to leave in the middle of the event, if so Balinese people can consider you as an impolite person.

As the ceremony to them is very sacred, they expect the foreign people also feel honoured and follow the whole series of the event. So, prepare yourself to follow any rituals and a series of duty in the ceremonies. The etiquette and behaviour in Bali must reflect to your positive personality so that Balinese people can see your truly desire to enjoy the culture of Bali completely. (Read also : Ngaben in Bali)

3. While dining with Balinese people, as a guest, eat and drink the foods given by the host

The social etiquette in Bali is not limited only to the ceremony or traditions by the people, yet also applied in meeting or appointment, either formal or non formal. For instance, while dining in a meeting with Balinese people as a host, it is suggested for you to eat and drink the foods given by the host right after they allow you even though you are still not hungry or thirsty.

4. Eat and drink with your right hand

Furthermore, using left-hand for eating is highly not recommended and will offend the Balinese people. So, it will be better for the tourists or business co-workers that will be hosted by Balinese people to at least try eat by the right hand, especially for those who are left-handed.

5. When calling people, do not put your hands up

The next social etiquette that is should known in Bali is the etiquette when calling other people. In Bali, it is also considered as impolite if a person call another person by put the fingers or hands up or wave hands above the head. Courtesy is a highly crucial point in communication of Balinese people. So, even the etiquette of calling people is highly viewed by Balinese people.

Read also : Communication Etiquette in Indonesia

6. Always prepare a shawl (for woman) before visit the Temple

Bali is also well-known of numbers of its beautiful places to worship like temples. Generally, we have to wear decent clothes when visiting any places to worship. Balinese people are really obedient to their religions which mostly Hinduism. For Hinduism people, a proper cloth to wear when visit a temple is a shawl for woman. This is because a Temple is highly sacred. Therefore, it is very suggested for women visitors to prepare a shawl before travelling in Bali. Currently, places to rent a shawl has been already existed in some well-known sacred places in Bali.

7. Always prepare a sarong (for man) before visit the Temple

Furthermore, same to the shawl for woman, sarong for man is a must when entering any Temple in Bali. Although most of big sacred places provide the rent of a shawl or sarong, some sacred places in Bali still do not have a place to rent a shawl or sarong. So, it is better to prepare first.

8. Beware of Canang Sari in Bali

Canang Sari is one of the daily offerings made by Balinese Hinduism to thank Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa in prayer and praise. In Bali, one of the etiquettes that should not be violated is do not step on the Canang Sari. You must be careful, because the Canang Sari is usually put on some places everywhere, at the stores, houses, hotels and other public places. If you see any Canang Sari is put on a road, then you shall respect it by go pass the Canang Sari without step it over (try to avoid the overstep). Do not ever step on the Canang Sari. If you accidentally step on it, say your sorry as soon as possible. It is not because you are afraid of the disasters coming, yet to show your respect to the beliefs and cultures in Bali.

9. Cherish the big traditional celebrations in Bali

Before you start travelling in Bali, it would be better to choose the right dates to visit Bali. Perhaps you can search the Calendar of Bali first to see if there is any big celebration or ceremony. If there is any big celebration in Bali, probably some recreation places will be closed. Moreover, you will be not allowed to visit the Temple if there is a big ceremony event that occurs. Remember to keep your courtesy, for those who really like taking photos, make sure to ask first if you can take the photo of the ceremony and if you can enter the Temple or not. The clothes you wear are should be decent, wear a shawl or sarong also. Do not disturb the Hinduism people that are doing their prayers.

10. Obey the rules when entering a Temple or other sacred places in Bali

The etiquette that should be obeyed by visitors in Bali is the rules when visiting a Temple or other sacred places in Bali. As stated before, you must wear decent clothes along with the shawl or sarong. For women, if you are in your monthly period, you can not enter the Temple or any sacred place. Every visitors also have to speak kindly and politely in the Temple and other sacred places in Bali.

Read also : Hindu Temple at Bali

11. Do not turn the light on when Nyepi (Silence Day of Bali)

One of the big days of Balinese Hinduism is Nyepi or Silence Day of Bali. On the Nyepi Day, every recreation places are closed. People are not allowed to leave their houses and also not allowed to turn the light on. There is a tourist that intentionally visit Bali on the Nyepi Day to feel the atmosphere. Yet sometimes there is still a tourist that is stuck because he did not pay attention to the departure time. If you are in Bali on the Nyepi Day, it is highly suggested for you to follow any rules.

Do not be reckless by turn even a slight of light on, or travelling to the public places because the customary police always watch the people in Bali on the Nyepi Day. If you stay in your house or room, you may turn the light on and watch TV but you have to make sure only you who sees the light on and the TV volume should be really low. Close the window so that the light of the lamp in your room is not seen by outside.

12. Do not make noises on Nyepi Day in Bali

Another critical aspect on Nyepi Day that should be obeyed by visitors is do not make a noise and stay quiet. The whole Bali region will be remain silent on the Nyepi Day, that is why Nyepi Day is also called The Silence Day of Bali. Because the Balinese Hinduism People are devoted on their prayers on the Nyepi Day.

13. Show your respect to those Balinese people who are doing their prayers

If you see the Balinese people who are praying, you must not walk in front of them. You also are not allowed to take the photos by using blitz or flash in front of those people who are praying. If you accidentally pass the ceremonial procession on the street, then show your respect by do not sound the horn.

14. If you want to go to toilet when you are at a public place, use the proper public toilet

Next etiquette that is must obeyed by visitors in Bali is if you want to go to toilet, search for the public toilet and use it. Sometimes, when you are on your travelling in the nature of Bali, and you want to go to toilet but you can not find it. The most important thing is you are really not allowed to pee at everywhere you like. Balinese people believe that every places have some “spirits”. So, if you really want to pee, say your sorry first and avoid big trees with offerings under it or that tied with something. (Read also  :Spiritual Places in Bali)

15. Always remember to control your behaviour and manners

The most important thing that should be obeyed in Bali is to control your behaviour and manners. You have to preserve the nature of Bali. Do not litter, whether on the street or the beach. Do not pollute the river or sea (water sources) because Balinese people believe that water has a high position for their ritual and ceremony.

16. It is not allowed to pat someone’s head

The tourists are suggested to not touch or pat anyone’s head especially Balinese people in Bali. Even to touch a child’s head is forbidden, because in Bali, head is considered as a part of body that is pure.

17. Do not point at something with only one finger

Pointing at something by only one finger is considered as forbidden in Bali. It is best for tourists to use all parts of their hand if they want to point at something, or use the thumb on the right hand.

18. Use the right hand for everything if possible

Giving the money, food or other things by using the left hand is considered a little bit impolite in Bali. So, the tourists are suggested to always use their right hand for everything that needs only one hand.

19. Drugs are highly forbidden

Although Bali has been visited numerous times by foreign tourists, the rules of Indonesia still exists. The police in Bali is always aware and drugs are forbidden in Bali. If you are caught with any kind of drugs, the police will not forgive you and you will enter the jail in no time and follow the legal ways.

20. Do not climb any statue in Bali

For getting a good photo, sometimes there are people that will make a pose even by climbing to a statue or any high sacred place. Yet, this is really not allowed in Bali.

All in all, those are 20 social etiquette that are needed to followed by people who want to visit Bali. Bali is such an amazing island to visit, especially for those who really like beaches. Yet, it is a must for the visitors/tourists to pay attention at all the norms and customs in Bali.

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