Everyday Plastic in Bali

I am one of the millions of human beings who contribute to destroying the environment. It sounds dramatic, but for me bringing my own container when I’m in suddenly in the mood for some street-side mung bean porridge is just such a hassle! So, I end up using their disposable plastic. When my stomach rumbles

The Dayus: The Brahmin Women of Days Past

The girl woke up and lifted her well-balanced shoulders. A watchful look came into her beautiful, Bambi eyes as an elderly woman of 70 or so approached her. “Enough is enough,” said the latter. “You’d better accept your fate! Don’t forget that you are a Dayu and that the choice of your husband is not

The House Spirits

The Balinese believe that every house has its own guardian spirits who live in a small shrine at the front gate called the Penunggun Karang. These are intended to repel negative auras or people that attempt to enter a home, be it the ‘seen’ or the ‘unseen’. If people with bad intentions enter a home,

Is This The End of The Ancestors’ Cult In Bali

The ancestors’ cult, for some reason, is deemed irrational. Is it for this reason that established religions are doing their best to eradicate it? Indonesia is a case in point, regarding both Islam and Balinese Hinduism. In Indonesian Islam, the main point of contention between the two principal Moslem organisations, Mohammadiah and Nadhadul Ulama, is

The Guardians of Bali’s Culture

Bali has been named one of the world’s top destinations several times now, but along with the tourist influx comes modernisation. Yet, amidst today’s modern Bali, where asphalted roads have taken over a good portion of rice fields, the sound of the traditional Gamelan music still echoes across the island, and the traditional sarong and

Origins of Time

The Story of the Origin of Time

Bali is an extraordinary place in which, like in ancient Greece and India, there are still stories that can be read as stories, or as philosophical teaching. One of these stories is the Kala Tatwa, the story of the Lord of Time, Batara Kala. The story below is only a slightly edited version of the

Balinese Architecture: A World of Order & Harmony

Balinese villages give an extraordinary impression of order. Houses are all identical and strikingly parallel in layout; with family temples, kitchens and rooms occupying the same relative position in the walled compound. Large temples, likewise, all have the same structure with their main shrines occupying the same kaja kangin (east-mountainward) corner. This Balinese sense of


Banyan Trees and the Cult of Ancestors

Indonesia is home to one of the most fantastic trees in the world, the banyan tree, locally known as waringin, a kind of ficus. Apart from its size and surface, the most extraordinary aspect of the banyan is its resilience. When its vines touch the ground, they grow into new roots and trunks, spreading out

The Royal Politics of Leftover Food in Bali

It would be interesting to make a survey, and hence know for sure, what you readers really know of Balinese cuisine. Excuse my arrogance, but I am pretty sure that many of you, when thinking of Balinese cuisine, have something in mind that did not exist forty years ago. Yes, much of what you find

The Javanese Mangku of The Natar Sari Temple

The faithful were now all gone, and all that remained was only scattered on the ground, the remains of the offerings: torn coconut leaves and trampled flowers; the air was moist and filled with the scent of burned-out incense mixed with the strong odor of the drying earth. It was all over now and, his

Refusing to Become a Mangku Priest

Who are the priests in Bali? Most of you have probably seen pictures of high priests, the pedandas, or even seen them on the roads or in temples. They are easily recognisable because they tie their long hair into a knot on top of their heads or wear a tiara while reading mantras. Pedandas are

Now Bali