The Sacred Gringsing Wayang Kebo

Kurniawati was sitting next to me under a roof covered in jaka fibers, while she was waiting to pick up the daha (unmarried women) for the coming-of-age ritual, part of Usaba Kasa. It was 10 in the morning, “The girls have been getting ready since the morning, while the boys are drinking. We are waiting

Prinka Saraswati

The Flowers of Bali: A World of Symbolism and Colour

Bali, known as the island of the Gods, boasts a variety of magnificent flora. Many of these cherished plants and flowers hold a cultural significance and are admired for their beauty. Importantly, the flowers of Bali play a vital role in various ceremonies, rituals and celebrations. Rooted deeply in Balinese culture, they hold deep meanings


A History of Christianity in Bali: A Question of Faith and Culture

Balinese Hinduism is central to the island’s identity. Rites and rituals colour everyday life in Bali, creating a vibrant living culture that captures the imagination of visitors. However, not all Balinese are Hindu: there are communities of Christian, Muslim and Buddhist Balinese, who at face value appear just like their Hindu neighbours but in fact,

The Temple of the Murdered Man

People have misconceptions about Balinese religion. Many see it as strictly Hindu. It may be so in children’s school books, which emphasises classical Hindu-Indian cosmology, but this is a “fundamentalist” evolution. The Balinese may refer once in a while to Hindu gods, but the daily ritual life is dominated by the worship of ancestors of

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


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

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