5 Balinese Traditions You Should Know About
From ancient architecture to religious rituals, Bali is one of the most culturally rich regions of Indonesia. This tropical paradise is known for its many customs that exude passion, spirituality, and holistic living.
- Ngaben is an ancient Balinese tradition where deceased loved ones are cremated to be successfully sent to the next life
- When Balinese adolescents reach puberty, they undergo the symbolic teeth-cutting ritual
- Balinese believe that large trees are the homes of demons
- The Indonesian tradition of Jamu is widely practiced in Bali
- There are two major ceremonies that celebrate the triumph of good over evil
The ancient traditions of Bali are one way that people have been able to grow closer to their own bodies and minds. Understanding these cultural practices is one way that you can finally feel more at peace with yourself and the world around you.
Keep reading, and we'll share five of the most enlightening and engaging Balinese customs and traditions you should be familiar with.
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#1. Ngaben: Bali's Celebration Of The Dead
Whether you're looking to travel to Bali or merely learn more about the intriguing traditions of Indonesia, understanding the way of the Balinese people can be a fantastic way to grow closer to the world around you.
The Intrigue Of Balinese Culture
Indonesia is a very diverse place, and Bali brings an amazingly rich culture to the table. It's marked by countless ancient temples, lush greenery, and plenty of artistic passion. And a major part of Bali's charm was created by its many intriguing traditions and customs.
One such tradition is that of Ngaben, which is likely one of the most important ceremonies in Balinese culture.
A Centuries-Old Tradition To Honor Loved Ones
Our beliefs and traditions are often governed by the way of the world. And one undeniable aspect of living, regardless of how morbid it can be, is that we all will eventually die.
The Balinese tradition of Ngaben focuses on the idea that dead loved ones should be cleansed by fire before being sent to the other side. Since the vast majority of Indonesians and Balinese people are Hindus, they believe that people are composed of both physical and spiritual elements.
Ngaben consists of cremating deceased bodies in an effort to free the spirit from the mortal vessel. The fire is believed to erase the elements of the physical body so that the spirit, or Atma, continues to live on.
However, Ngaben isn't a sad occasion. If anything, it's a celebration! Since most Balinese are Hindus, they also believe in reincarnation. Therefore, families are even advised not to cry at all so that their loved one's path to the next life isn't hindered.
The date of the ceremony can be determined by anything from family preference to other circumstances. But usually, the elders pick the date of the ceremony according to the Balinese calendar system.
#2. Bali's Teeth-Cutting Ceremony
There are countless rituals that are a part of Balinese culture. But a significant one is known as the teeth-cutting ceremony or Mepandes.
This religious rite happens whenever a Balinese reaches puberty. It's a symbolic ceremony where young boys and girls have their front teeth scraped by elders.
It's a way for vices like jealousy, greed, and anger to be let go. The teeth-scraping is done so these young Balinese can let go of their harsh natures.
The ceremony is then finished off with a prayer.
#3. Balinese People Believe That Large Trees Are The Homes Of Demons
Bali is a very religious and spiritual place. There are over 20,000 Hindu temples in this Indonesian province alone, each with its own purpose.
The Balinese believe that we are constantly surrounded by spirits, both good and evil. They must be respected, treated equally, and given offerings. Offerings can be anything from candies and chewing gum to money and cigarettes.
Along these lines, the Balinese believe that large trees are inhabited by spirits and demons. Large trees are often covered in black and white holy cloth at the base as a way to notate this belief.
And even now, when Balinese drive by such trees, they must honk their car horn twice to show respect. Even many tourists have started copying this habit!
#4. Jamu: The Ancient Indonesian Tradition
Indonesia as a whole has many fantastic traditions and cultures that the people have adopted in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. And beginning nearly 2,000 years ago, the ancient tradition of Jamu started in this archipelago.
Across Indonesia, Jamu has offered holistic living and a more joyful way of life for the people. It's about feeling good and growing closer to a community while prioritizing complete health.
The Jamu lifestyle is a herbal wellness tradition that uses everything from daily beauty rituals to sensory engagement to encourage happy and healthy living. And especially nowadays, when the world seems to move too fast, it's what many of us need to start feeling fulfilled again!
#5. The Battle Between Good And Evil
Bali has many significant traditions, but one of the most prevalent of all is that of Galungan and Kuningan.
Starting on the day of Galungan and ending on Kuningan, this eleven-day ceremony is all about celebrating the triumph of good over evil. It commemorates the battle between Dharma and Adharma, as well as the victory of Dharma.
People often decorate their homes and make offerings while kids roam the streets wearing Barong masks. These children, wearing the mask of the mythological character animated by the spirit Banas Pati Rajah, even go door to door, cleansing away evil spirits.
Bali's culture and traditions are unique and diverse. Having started thousands of years ago, many of them still maintain their validity today.
From deep connections to religion to a magical focus on holistic living, you can greatly benefit from understanding the traditions of Bali!
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