Culture / Religion
The population of Bali was 3,890,757 as of the 2010 Census; the latest estimate (for January 2014) is 4,225,384. There are an estimated 30,000 expatriates living in Bali.
A DNA study in 2005 by Karafet et al. found that 12% of Balinese Y-chromosomes are of likely Indian origin, while 84% are of likely Austronesian origin, and 2% of likely Melanesian origin. The study does not correlate the DNA samples to the Balinese caste system.
Pre-modern Bali has had four castes, state Jeff Lewis and Belinda Lewis, but with a "very strong tradition of communal decision-making and interdependence". The four castes have been classified as Soedra (Shudra), Wesia (Vaishyas), Satrias (Kshatriyas) and Brahmana (Brahmin).
The 19th-century scholars such as Crawfurd and Friederich suggested that Balinese caste had Indian origins, but states Helen Creese, scholars such as Brumund who visited and stayed the island of Bali suggested that his field observations conflicted with the "received understandings concerning its Indian origins". In Bali, the Shudra (locally spelled Soedra) have typically been the temple priests, though depending on the demographics, a temple priest may also be from the other three castes. In most regions, it has been the Shudra who typically make offerings to the gods on behalf of the Hindu devotees, chant prayers, recite meweda (Vedas), and set the course of Balinese temple festivals.
Unlike most of Muslim-majority Indonesia, about 83.5% of Bali's population adheres to Balinese Hinduism, formed as a combination of existing local beliefs and Hindu influences from mainland Southeast Asia and South Asia. Minority religions include Islam (13.37%), Christianity (2.47%), and Buddhism (0.5%). These figures do not include immigrants from other parts of Indonesia.
The general beliefs and practices of Agama Hindu Dharma are a mixture of ancient traditions and contemporary pressures placed by Indonesian laws that permit only monotheist belief under the national ideology of panca sila. Traditionally, Hinduism in Indonesia had a pantheon of deities and that tradition of belief continues in practice; further, Hinduism in Indonesia granted freedom and flexibility to Hindus as to when, how and where to pray. However, officially, Indonesian government considers and advertises Indonesian Hinduism as a monotheistic religion with certain officially recognized beliefs that comply with its national ideology. Indonesian school text books describe Hinduism as having one supreme being, Hindus offering three daily mandatory prayers, and Hinduism as having certain common beliefs that in part parallel those of Islam. Scholars contest whether these Indonesian government recognized and assigned beliefs reflect the traditional beliefs and practices of Hindus in Indonesia before Indonesia gained independence from Dutch colonial rule.
Balinese Hinduism has roots in Indian Hinduism and Buddhism, that arrived through Java. Hindu influences reached the Indonesian Archipelago as early as the first century. Historical evidence is unclear about the diffusion process of cultural and spiritual ideas from India. Java legends refer to Saka-era, traced to 78 AD. Stories from the Mahabharata Epic have been traced in Indonesian islands to the 1st century; however, the versions mirror those found in southeast Indian peninsular region (now Tamil Nadu and southern Andhra Pradesh).
The Bali tradition adopted the pre-existing animistic traditions of the indigenous people. This influence strengthened the belief that the gods and goddesses are present in all things. Every element of nature, therefore, possesses its own power, which reflects the power of the gods. A rock, tree, dagger, or woven cloth is a potential home for spirits whose energy can be directed for good or evil. Balinese Hinduism is deeply interwoven with art and ritual. Ritualizing states of self-control are a notable feature of religious expression among the people, who for this reason have become famous for their graceful and decorous behaviour.
Apart from the majority of Balinese Hindus, there also exist Chinese immigrants whose traditions have melded with that of the locals. As a result, these Sino-Balinese not only embrace their original religion, which is a mixture of Buddhism, Christianity, Taoism and Confucianism, but also find a way to harmonise it with the local traditions. Hence, it is not uncommon to find local Sino-Balinese during the local temple's odalan. Moreover, Balinese Hindu priests are invited to perform rites alongside a Chinese priest in the event of the death of a Sino-Balinese. Nevertheless, the Sino-Balinese claim to embrace Buddhism for administrative purposes, such as their Identity Cards.
Balinese and Indonesian are the most widely spoken languages in Bali, and the vast majority of Balinese people are bilingual or trilingual. The most common spoken language around the tourist areas is Indonesian, as many people in the tourist sector are not solely Balinese, but migrants from Java, Lombok, Sumatra, and other parts of Indonesia. There are several indigenous Balinese languages, but most Balinese can also use the most widely spoken option: modern common Balinese. The usage of different Balinese languages was traditionally determined by the Balinese caste system and by clan membership, but this tradition is diminishing. Kawi and Sanskrit are also commonly used by some Hindu priests in Bali, for Hinduism literature was mostly written in Sanskrit.
English and Chinese are the next most common languages (and the primary foreign languages) of many Balinese, owing to the requirements of the tourism industry, as well as the English-speaking community and huge Chinese-Indonesian population. Other foreign languages, such as Japanese, Korean, French, Russian or German are often used in multilingual signs for foreign tourists.
Bali is renowned for its diverse and sophisticated art forms, such as painting, sculpture, woodcarving, handcrafts, and performing arts. Balinese cuisine is also distinctive. Balinese percussion orchestra music, known as gamelan, is highly developed and varied. Balinese performing arts often portray stories from Hindu epics such as the Ramayana but with heavy Balinese influence. Famous Balinese dances include pendet, legong, baris, topeng, barong, gong keybar, and kecak (the monkey dance). Bali boasts one of the most diverse and innovative performing arts cultures in the world, with paid performances at thousands of temple festivals, private ceremonies, or public shows.
Throughout the year, there are a number of festivals celebrated locally or island-wide according to the traditional calendars.
The Hindu New Year, Nyepi, is celebrated in the spring by a day of silence. On this day everyone stays at home and tourists are encouraged to remain in their hotels. On the day before New Year, large and colourful sculptures of ogoh-ogoh monsters are paraded and finally burned in the evening to drive away evil spirits. Other festivals throughout the year are specified by the Balinese pawukon calendrical system.
Celebrations are held for many occasions such as a tooth-filing (coming-of-age ritual), cremation or odalan (temple festival). One of the most important concepts that Balinese ceremonies have in common is that of désa kala patra, which refers to how ritual performances must be appropriate in both the specific and general social context. Many of the ceremonial art forms such as wayang kulit and topeng are highly improvisatory, providing flexibility for the performer to adapt the performance to the current situation. Many celebrations call for a loud, boisterous atmosphere with lots of activity and the resulting aesthetic, ramé, is distinctively Balinese. Often two or more gamelan ensembles will be performing well within earshot, and sometimes compete with each other to be heard. Likewise, the audience members talk amongst themselves, get up and walk around, or even cheer on the performance, which adds to the many layers of activity and the liveliness typical of ramé.
Kaja and kelod are the Balinese equivalents of North and South, which refer to ones orientation between the island's largest mountain Gunung Agung (kaja), and the sea (kelod). In addition to spatial orientation, kaja and kelod have the connotation of good and evil; gods and ancestors are believed to live on the mountain whereas demons live in the sea. Buildings such as temples and residential homes are spatially oriented by having the most sacred spaces closest to the mountain and the unclean places nearest to the sea.
Most temples have an inner courtyard and an outer courtyard which are arranged with the inner courtyard furthest kaja. These spaces serve as performance venues since most Balinese rituals are accompanied by any combination of music, dance and drama. The performances that take place in the inner courtyard are classified as wali, the most sacred rituals which are offerings exclusively for the gods, while the outer courtyard is where bebali ceremonies are held, which are intended for gods and people. Lastly, performances meant solely for the entertainment of humans take place outside the walls of the temple and are called bali-balihan. This three-tiered system of classification was standardised in 1971 by a committee of Balinese officials and artists to better protect the sanctity of the oldest and most sacred Balinese rituals from being performed for a paying audience.
Tourism, Bali's chief industry, has provided the island with a foreign audience that is eager to pay for entertainment, thus creating new performance opportunities and more demand for performers. The impact of tourism is controversial since before it became integrated into the economy, the Balinese performing arts did not exist as a capitalist venture, and were not performed for entertainment outside of their respective ritual context. Since the 1930s sacred rituals such as the barong dance have been performed both in their original contexts, as well as exclusively for paying tourists. This has led to new versions of many of these performances which have developed according to the preferences of foreign audiences; some villages have a barong mask specifically for non-ritual performances as well as an older mask which is only used for sacred performances.
Balinese society continues to revolve around each family's ancestral village, to which the cycle of life and religion is closely tied. Coercive aspects of traditional society, such as customary law sanctions imposed by traditional authorities such as village councils (including "kasepekang", or shunning) have risen in importance as a consequence of the democratisation and decentralisation of Indonesia since 1998.
Bali is a major world surfing destination with popular breaks dotted across the southern coastline and around the offshore island of Nusa Lembongan.
As part of the Coral Triangle, Bali, including Nusa Penida, offers a wide range of dive sites with varying types of reefs.
Bali was the host of 2008 Asian Beach Games. It was the second time Indonesia hosted an Asia-level multi-sport event, after Jakarta held the 1962 Asian Games.
In football, Bali is home to the football club Bali United, which plays in the Liga 1. The team was relocated from Samarinda, East Kalimantan to Gianyar, Bali. Harbiansyah Hanafiah, the main commissioner of Bali United explained that he did the name change and moved the homebase to Bali because there were no representative from Bali in the highest football tier in Indonesia. Another reason was due to local fans in Samarinda prefer to support Pusamania Borneo F.C. more than Persisam.
In June 2012, Subak, the irrigation system for paddy fields in Bali was enlisted as a Natural UNESCO world heritage site.
Bali was the host of Miss World 2013 (63rd edition of the Miss World pageant). It was the first time Indonesia hosted an international beauty pageant.
- Penang, Malaysia