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Bali Overview

Bali Overview


Although the Balinese are Hindu and worship the Hindu trinity Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu, the Balinese Hindu religion is very different from the Indian variety. Whilst the Balinese do have a caste system but there are no untouchables. The caste system is most evident in the language which has three levels: a low level for commoners, a mid level to address strangers and a high level only used when addressing Balinese aristocracy.

The Balinese are an unusual island people in that they have never been sea faring people. They believe that good spirits dwell in the mountains and that the seas are home to demons. Most villages have at least three main temples: one of which is the Pura Puseh or ‘temple of origin’, that is dedicated to the village founders and which faces to Gunung Agung (Mt. Agung) - home to Pura Besakih, the mother temple on Bali. The second is Pura Desa or 'village temple'. The third is Pura Dalem or 'ancestral temple'. These three, together with other perhaps several more village temples and the fact that each household may have more than a few temples unto themselves as well as temples in the rice fields, markets, etc. etc. etc. it becomes clear why Bali is often referred to as the Island of the gods.

The Balinese are extremely devout and no day goes by without making offerings to the gods. These daily offerings - called Banten are a major part of Balinese life. You will see these offerings nearly everywhere in Bali. Made of flowers, cigarettes, cookies, rice and even sometimes money (the actual items used are not as important as the process of making and offering it to the spirits). These offerings are given to the good spirits in hopes of continued prosperity as well as to the evil spirits as an appeasement.

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