Being a country that derives from thousands of islands, it is little wonder that Indonesia is a country with such diverse cultures and societies. Although a national Indonesian identity has emerged, the different societies simply do not just forget of their cultures and roots, resulting in the preservation of many vibrant cultures in Indonesia.
While Bali is among the more technologically advanced and modern province of Indonesia, the traditions have not been forgotten as evidenced from the buses that are blessed in the Hindu tradition before they are sent down to the streets. Walking down the streets, it is not unlikely to hear the traditional gamelan orchestra of the Bali tradition playing everywhere. The traditional practices of Bali can be attributed to how a large population of the people (approximately 90% of the residents of Bali) are ethnic Balinese.
Like many Asian countries, Balinese society is traditionally highly communal. The society is the responsibilities of the individual and rarely you’ll find anything attributed to an individual. Even in the creative arts field, you will not find traditional art, whether music or sculptures, attributed to an individual. Instead, art is displayed as a piece of work that is shared among the community. The art of the Balinese culture hence really brings out the community spirit of the people.
While Balinese are Hindus, they only adopted the Hindustani belief on top of pre-existing beliefs and culture. On top of praying to the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu, as well as other Hindu gods such as Ganesh, they also continue prayer to their own gods such as Sanghyang Widi. However, even in their old beliefs, there are some similarities to Hinduism such as the belief of the necessity to pray to both good spirits and bad spirits.
While religion still plays a fairly
heavy role in the Balinese residents’ life, it is not common to find many people in temples as their religion does not necessitate consistent visits. Instead, you will usually only find these temples crowded with people during the festivals, such as Galungan-Kuningan – the 10-day festival with many ongoing activities at both family and community temples all over the island. As the Balinese year is only 210 days, the festivals do not repeat at exactly same day each year and it is important to check for the dates if you are interested to visit during these times.
Among the many delights of the festivals, one of the popular events include the dances. In Bali, dance and drama often intertwine, with almost all the dances having a narrative and telling a story. The dance often combines both comedy and seriousness with nobles that speak classical Javanese Kawi language and clowns that convey the story in Balinese. At other times, dances can be found at tourists centers nearly every night.