Enjoy the beauty and bustle of Kuta tourism will make it difficult to imagine that Bali has a unique and complex culture since decades ago. Bali is the only Hindu-dominated isle of the thousands islands in the Indonesian archipelago. Millions of visitors come every year to watch and enjoy the charm of Balinese culture and art.
The end of the prehistoric era in Indonesia is marked by the arrival of the nation and Hindu influences. In the first centuries AD until approximately 1500, which is the disappearance of the Majapahit kingdom is the period of Hindu influence in Indonesia. Among the kings of Bali, which left many written statement also mentioned an idea of the composition of the government at the time were Udayana, Jayapangus, Jayasakti, and Children Wungsu.
In the inscriptions before the King Anak Wungsu mentioned some kind of art that existed at that time. However, only in the time of King Anak Wungsu, we can distinguish the type of art into two major groups, namely the palace of art and public art. In the field of religion, the influence of prehistoric times, especially from the megalithic era still feels strong. The belief at the time was focused to the worship of ancestral spirits who symbolized in the form of worship building called pyramid terraces or building staircase steps. At times it is seen at Hindu temple building similar to ‘pundan berundak’. From year to year the Bali culture is growing with the influence of foreign cultures, but without leaving its original culture.
Bali is divided into two big parts; south Bali and North Bali which bounded by mountains that stretch in the middle of the island from west to east end. South Bali is the center of Bali tourism as well as the capital of the province is in this section. There are some differences in the arts, culture and ceremonies but basically Balinese Hindu is the same in both parts. Most of the infrastructure dedicated to the tourism are in South Bali such as accommodations, arts and cultural performances as well as tourism activities. Bali land is very fertile and suitable for agriculture, stunning views of the rice terraces could be found in several places as in Sidemen, Cekingan and Jatiluwih.
Balinese culture, universally is Balinese Hindu culture, but there are other cultures on this island as well, especially circulating around Buddhism and Islam. With the majority of Balinese Hindu culture they coexist peacefully. There are no colorful ceremonies but they offer exciting activities once a year such as the Lebaran feast and Chinese New Year. Native Balinese known as the Bali Aga, has its own community and embrace a very different form of the Hindu from the population in general. Bali Aga does not recognize caste and they do not cremate the bodies of their dead.
Bali is famous because every aspect of the community’s life dominated by the arts, unique gamelan, dance, mystical story performances and even in ceremonies. Bali has its own rules in their architecture that have high artistic value as well. For those who have sufficient economic capability, the deceased family members will be cremated, which involves all ‘Banjar adat’ by means of ‘wadah’ or ‘bade’ (cremation tower) with beautiful and unique decorations.
A number of important ceremonies are involved in the Balinese culture carried out within a specified period based on the calculation of traditional Balinese calendar. Galungan is one of the most important ceremonies in Bali, occurring once every 210 days (six months in Balinese calendar) and Kuningan is a series of the ceremony which will held after 10 days. Galungan is the anniversary of the victory of Dharma (goodness) against Adharma (evil). The ceremony is intended as an expression of gratitude to the Ancestors and God. Another important ceremony is Nyepi or Balinese New Year. On this day, the people of Bali are forbidden to work, traveling, having fun and light a fire. Bali will black out and no activities will found in 24 hours. Even the International Airport will be closed in this day.
Bali proudly presenting their culture to the visitors but also expect them to obey some unwritten rules that applied in rural communities. Visitors who want to enter the temple or other holy places must wear Balinese traditional costume, or at least wearing sarong and scarves. It is forbidden to enter the temple area for women who are menstruating. If you discover the ongoing ceremony, taking photos or videos are allowed without disregard the rules of politeness. There are many unwritten rules in Balinese community and could be different in each area, it is advisable to ask some information to your tour guide or locals especially in a temple or holy places.
Plan your Tour to this island since this isle is worth to visit. Contact a reputable Bali driver service to make it easier especially for those who will come in the first time.