Are the Balinese Becoming ‘Hindu-Protestant’?

With respect to the small Protestant community of Bali, the title is not a joke. Because we may be witnessing a uniquely Balinese variation of what happened five hundred years ago in Europe with the Protestant Reformation… What did happen five hundred years ago in Europe? Not much at first, except that some people started

Penjor Galungan Bali

Penjor – Question Marks Against the Sky

Like most storied places around the world, much of today’s Bali is a modern variation on the romanticised images of yesterday. But during Galungan, the quintessential Balinese traditional ceremony, Bali’s roads are arched with enchanting reminders of its ancient past. These arches, made of curved and decorated bamboo poles, are penjor. The archetypal penjor are

The Caste System in Today’s Bali

In Bali there remains a caste system, an import of sorts from India. Whilst this caste system once ruled social strata on the island, modernity has changed and moulded the way it is handled and approached today. Michael’s Predicament Michael has a problem. He is an idealist and, at his little diving business in Tanjung

A Look into Bali’s ‘New Normal’

We usually follow a similar pattern in life. We then repeat this a certain number of times. Then, we call this our ‘normal life;. It is still normal, even when one country in the world has a virus that kills hundreds to thousand of people. Though embellished with a surreal feeling, knowing that it exists

Naur Sot

Naur Sot and The Fulfillment of a Vow

The atmosphere was not a happy one in Pan Koncrong’s house. His daughter was lying in bed, feverish. An old medicine man (balian) had come and muttered a few magical words.  But now he was gone, and neither his prayers to the gods, nor his potions were working. The child was lying helpless on the

Don’t Touch My Wife : A Story of Castes and Morals

What does a bearded priest have in common with a civet cat? This somewhat cheeky story teaches lessons of faithfulness and morality – because in Bali, morals are best taught through the magic of a good story. People visiting Bali are usually made to believe that there is a caste system and that everyone thus

The Idea of Morality in Balinese Culture

Journalist Eric Buvelot and socio-ethnologist Jean Couteau have recorded 20 hours of discussion about changes that have happened in Bali since the 70’s. The conversation was structured and segmented according to many different aspects of Balinese life, mostly from a socio-historical perspective, to trace all the overturning in Balinese mores since 50 years, when modernity

Arak For Life

In Bali, ’arak’ isn’t just an ordinary traditional spirit, but a means of religious tradition as well as the daily livelihood of its farmers. One of the traditional producers are in the village of Tri Eka Buana, Karangasem regency. 336.5 hectares rich with coconut trees, which are considered to trees of blessings, as many parts

Widow Sacfrifices and other Suicides in Bali

It is a mistake to think that only bearded men with gleaming eyes seek ‘paradise’ by blowing themselves up in the middle of a crowd. Like it or not, Bali too has its own traditions of horror-inspired paradise seekers. Let us give it a look. Widows’ Sacrifice The most famous of these traditions relates to

Holy Offerings: The Real Life Practice of ‘Yadnya’

The Balinese Hindu believe that we can balance the spiritual, human and environmental through ‘yadnya’, the holy offerings. This is intimately intertwined with rituals and the instruments involved. An unusual dry season, flooding, water scarcity, air pollution, all of these are good reasons for a big ritual, often seen as a way to overcome the

Changing Caste and Clan in Bali

Traditionally the key element of the Balinese religion is not the Hindu gods, but the ancestors. It is to these ancestors that people address their daily prayers. Whenever sons create a new family in a new location, they set up a new family temple or sanggah. From here, they add successively from generation-to-generation: the sanggah

The Guardian of The Pura Taman Tukad Temple

Stuff happens, as people say. No one could have guessed that at first from Ni Nyoman Kerti. Like most other children of the village, she followed her mother’s steps and knew when and where to make offerings. As for the why, the reason was usually given even before she could raise the question: there were

Now Bali