Ngiring: Accompanied by the Gods

‘Ngiring: Accompanied by the Gods’, is Part One of a two-part article on trance in Bali by Jean Couteau. Make sure to read NOW! Bali’s September-October 2023 edition for Part Two. Balinese religion is a complicated thing. You have what the school books and the Parisada Hindu organisation teach you: The unity of the godly

Jean Couteau

Mekare-Kare: The Pandan Wars of Tenganan Pegringsingan

One of the yearly highlights at Desa Adat Tenganan Pegringsingan (Traditional Village of Tenganan Pegringsingan) is Mekare-kare, the vibrant pandan wars that mark the ‘climax’ of their ritual calendar. Found 3km north from the popular coastal town of Candidasa, Tenganan Pegringsingan is a Bali Aga village, whose way of life and customs differ greatly from


Bali’s ‘Wayang Week’ and Stories of Time the Devourer 

If there is an Indonesian form of art that is of international repute and calls to mind the notion of a “magic show”, this is undoubtedly the shadow play or puppet show theatre: the “wayang”. The trembling shadows of ancestral figures dancing on a white screen as they are shaped and unshaped by a flickering


The Culture of Balinese Cuisine 

Balinese food is often over-simplified. In fact, most foods are. Reduced to the singular dish that is brought to our table. As we smell, bite and chew, our taste buds absorb the flavours and yes, “Delicious!” registers our brain, “Have another bite.” What each scrumptious bite doesn’t tell us, however, is that every herb and


Offerings: Food for the Gods

Many of Bali’s top reputed restaurants might sell food of international standards; their diners might be local and international celebrities, ministers, singers and sports stars, but by Balinese standards, believe me, these restaurants don’t quite cut it. Even the ones listed in this magazine. Why is that you ask? Well, they only serve food to


The Healing Traditions of the Balian Usada

In Bali there is the traditional doctor known as the balian usada, whose knowledge is gained through the lontar manuscripts and the inherited teachings of predecessors. Still frequented by many Balinese, the practice of the balian deals with both the sekala and niskala worlds, the seen and unseen, and are the continuation of Bali’s ancient

The Cosmic Complexities of Balinese Love

In Bali, love and indeed sex are more than just about the relationship between two people. It is about the gods, the cosmos, the cycle of life. For most Westerners love oscillates between two poles: on one side there is the romantic meeting of two individuals, and on the other side, the sexual encounter of


Yamaraja: Magical Drawings of the Bugbug Temple Festival

The Balinese are known for putting up extraordinary shows during their temple festivals. Most popular are the processions and dances that take place on these occasions. But there are other aspects that are no less extraordinary. One of them is the roughly 13-metre long drawing on the ground which is ceremoniously made in Bugbug every


The Ancestors’ Cult

The cult of the ancestors is the deepest and most indigenous element of the Balinese religion, and still dominates much of the ritual life of the local people. Let us give a look at this cult, such as it survives in Bali. The souls of the ancestors reside in a place often called the “Old


Inside the Fascinating Subject of Balinese Colour Symbology

Colour and movement are two of the most captivating aspects of the Bali experience. The diversity of the spectacular landscape contrasts dramatically with the vibrant and fascinating traditional culture; two of Bali’s most potent attractions. We are familiar with the creativity and colour of the offerings, the superbly decorated performance and ceremonial costumes, and the

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