Balinese Hindu Culture
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Balinese Hindu Culture

In compared to the rest of Indonesia, in Bali, you will experience a completely different culture; the Balinese Hindu culture. When you travel, it is respectful to learn about the culture in question. Here, we briefly explain what this Balinese culture means, what the religion is, and what the manners are.

Most of the residents of Bali are Hindu, unlike the rest of Indonesia which is largely Muslim. With a percentage of about 93%, this is besides India, the region with the highest percentage of followers of Hinduism. Hinduism in Bali is seen as another form of Hinduism; Balinese Hinduism, also called Hindu Dharma. This is the Hindu religion combined with Balinese mythologies and the Southeast Asian culture. Therefore, Balinese Hinduism is a somewhat freer form.

bali culture
Photo credit @sethlestath

According to religion, the human body can be divided into three separate parts. First of all the head which stands for heaven. Also, the body which represents the world. And finally, the feet that represent hell. These three parts together symbolise the entire universe.

Karma is an important standard in the Balinese lifestyle. Every person consists of both good and evil side. Hidden deep in the sea, demons are trying to cause chaos and stress. To keep peace and harmony as well as to help people make the right decisions, gods live in the mountains to help them. Balinese believe in reincarnation, not in the form of being able to return as an animal or plant, but as a new family member. Whether you become a happy person in this new life depends on what the karma (amount of good and bad deeds) was when that person died in his previous life.

bali culture
Photo credit @sethlestath

Because of the belief in reincarnation, death is fundamental to the lives of the Balinese. Cremation is required to detach the soul from the body so that it can reincarnate. Many cremations take place by the sea, where various sacrifices are made, including sometimes the slaughter of an animal. The ashes of the deceased are usually scattered over the sea. The beach is also a popular cultural spot for holiday rituals, like Ogoh-ogoh.

bali culture
Photo credit @sethlestath

Another notable ritual under Balinese culture is tooth filing. The sharp points of the natural teeth (which according to the Balinese are animal-like) are filed away, after which one becomes a full-fledged person. The sharp tips of the front teeth and incisors are said to carry bad qualities, such as sloppy, indecisive, showy, greedy, lazy, and sensuous. The filing is done by a priest after which the person is kept in isolation for three days.

Balinese people are fully occupied by religion every moment of the day. On the street, you will find many offerings for the gods. Even at parties, beer or wine is offered to the gods by pouring part of it on the ground.

The Balinese calendar has only 210 days. Every first day of the new calendar starts with the day of silence, also known as Nyepi. Besides this important day, they have many other holidays such as the blessing of the Wayang dolls, the blessing of weapons and tools, the day of the harvest, and the day of honouring the goddess of knowledge, literature, and art. Because these holidays are placed on the Balinese calendar, there are no fixed dates for these holidays on the regular calendar. Therefore, do some research about the Balinese holidays before you go.

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