1 The Rishis of India: The Ancient Rishis of India were the ones who gave the maximum contribution to humanity – in return they lived with the minimum! The Rishis of India gave birth to the culture of Bali. Although their names are no longer taught in the schools of India, they are highly respected in the schools of Bali — Markandeya, Baradwaja, and Agastya.
2 Hinduism: Bali and Nepal are the only places outside India, where Hinduism is the main Religion!
3 Harmony in the Universe: Balinese call the holy order in the cosmos Dharma and the disordering force – Adharma. Dharma and Adharma make the balance of our universe and life, called Tri Hita Karana.
4 Tri Hita Karana: Means translated “three causes of well-being” or “three reasons for prosperity”. Tri Hita Karana is the most represented life philosophy in Bali. For Balinese Hinduisms, the most important principle of being is harmony between people, nature and God (Pawongan, Palemahan, Parahyangan).
5 Good and Evil (Gods and Demons): Balinese believe and respect both Gods and Demons. Demons, Evil and bad spirits live in the sea (ocean, rivers, coastline) – therefore you won’t find many Hindu Balinese living right next to the beach. Gods and good spirits, in contrast, live in the mountains.
6 Volcano Agung is Considered the Most Sacred Place in Bali! Mount Agung is the holiest place where the gods, nature spirits and ancestral spirits live.
7 North is Sometimes South: The Balinese have a different concept of North and South. In Bali North is always toward Mount Agung! So for example, if you are in Kubu (which is to the North of Agung), for the Balinese Mount Agung would be still in the North, and not in the South of Kubu! So don’t ask the Balinese for directions 😀
8 Houses and Buildings: All buildings are built towards the mountains. Balinese sleep in a position where their head is pointing to Mount Agung (North), where the Gods and good spirits live.
9 20.000 Official Temples in Bali: … And therefore the Island of a Thousand Temple. But wait – in these 20.000 temples, the village and house (private) temples are not included!
10 Temples: Every family, compound, village, clan, society, organization, rice field, etc. has its own temple!
11 Pura Besakih Temple: Pura Besakih is the Mother of all Temples in Bali and the most sacred one!
12 Every Village Must Have at Least Three Temples: Pura Puseh, Pura Desa and Pura Dalem.
13 House Temples: In Southern Bali, the house temple are always built in the north-east direction, pointing Mount Agung, so that the people could pray toward Gods who live there. In the north of the Island, the temples are built in south-eastern position toward Mount Agung.
14 Reincarnation and Karma: Balinese believe in reincarnation, the circulation of the soul! Therefore they are living for the sake of good Karma and the intention of each Hindu journey is to free the soul from the never-ending cycle of reincarnation!
15 David Bowie: David Bowie requested his ashes to be scattered in Bali in line with “Buddhist rituals”. He literally swapped the “Hinduism” with “Buddhism”.
16 Pelinggih Meru: The typical Balinese temple tower is called Pelinggih Meru. The towers require a unique construction because they represent a receptacle for gods to enter the temple. The most important object for the Meru’s construction is the priapic – a symbol of God’s intrinsic essence. The prep is covered then with alang-alang grass and flower. The interesting thing is that if the Meru Tower goes broken, you cannot change some parts of it – you should buy a new one! Otherwise, you will mess with the Gods! And the Meru Towers are really expensive (our driver told us about this).
17 Bali is Actually Four Islands: The main island Bali and the three Nusa Islands – Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan are located on Bali’s southeast coastline, a 20-30-minute boat ride from Sanur.
18 Canang Sari: Canang Saris are the Balinese daily offerings which are small plates made of banana leaves filled with flowers, rice, coins, food, etc. You can find these EVERYWHERE!
19 Leave Food on Your Plate: if you are invited to a local family home for dinner and you have had enough, you better leave some food on your plate to signify you are done (funny but the same thing is in Bulgaria!)
20 Kopi Luwak: The most expensive coffee is made from civet droppings! The price can go up to 50 dollars a cup! And the truth is that the most expensive coffee is not your typical coffee in the morning… The coffee beans are collected from the digestion of a civet cat. The coffee is mainly produced in Sumatra, Sulawesi and Bali.
21 Bali is Dependent on Its Tourism: More than 80% of Bali’s economy is related to tourism!
22 Black Beaches: The black lava beaches are scattered all over Bali, but especially on the north-western coastlines. They are considered one of the best in the world! The very first time I saw a black lava beach was in Lanzarote, Canary Islands (here).
23 Bali is in the “Coral Triangle”: The Coral Triangle includes the seas from west of Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia (you can find my underwater stories from Malaysia here), Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Timor. The “Coral Triangle” is famous for its biodiversity: 600 species of coral, turtles, and more than 3000 species of fish which is more than double the number of species located in the Great Barrier Reef! Therefore Bali and its surrounding islands are perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving!
24 Ice is Government Regulated: Don’t drink the normal water in Bali, because it is not of good quality at all! Therefore the ice for the drinks in restaurants, bars and hotels is controlled by the local government.
25 Celebrating the New Year, Nyepi: Well, differently from the rest of the World, the Balinese celebrate the New Year in silence. On Nyepi day everything is closed – even the airport!
26 210 Days Calendar: Bali relied on a 210-day calendar known as the Pawukon Calendar!
27 The Highest Densities of Spas in the World! Yes, Bali is not only the Island of a Thousand temples but also the Island of a Thousand Spas!
28 The Names: Balinese are not that creative when it comes to Names! In Bali the people have usually one of the following four names: Wayan, Made, Nyoman and Ketut. The names simply mean – the first child, the second, the third, the fourth, etc. And what happens with the fifth kid? It starts fresh as a Wayan! 😀 And the best of it – it doesn’t matter if the child is a boy or a girl! Amazing!
29 Balinese Caste System: The caste system is a system of social organization. There are four castes in Bali: Shudras (the normal peasants, 90% of Bali’s population), Wesias (merchants and administrative officials), Ksatrias (the warrior caste, nobility and kings), Brahmins – holy men and priests. Caste system means: if you were born as a Shudas, you cannot become a Ksatrias, you will be Shudas for the rest of your life! But this applies only to men – when women get married to a higher caste, they change the caste.
30 Cremation is the Most Important of ALL Ceremonies! Balinese have a ceremony for each new period in human life: from the birth, naming ceremony, to death ceremony. The most important of all is the death ceremony, called Ngaben ( Pitra Yadyna, Pelebon). The cremation ceremony is the most important one because it is performed in order to relieve the soul from the dead body. The cremation ceremony is the very first step for the soul in order to reach the realm and wait for the cycle of rebirth. The death ceremonies are not likely the ceremonies in the western World – Balinese are celebrating death! Nobody is crying, nobody is sad – otherwise, it is not possible for the soul to break free!
Cremation is not only the most important but also the most expensive of all ceremonies! Sometimes the cremation ceremony costs more than 5 annual salaries – so you better have some children (who will borrow the money from other family members or neighbours) to pay for it! Sometimes the cremation takes time – unlike the cremation in India, the bodies are not cremated immediately after death. Typically Balinese are buried in a funeral (which sometimes is somewhere in the forest). It depends on how rich your family is – if you have rich family and children, you’ll be cremated right after you die. If not – you’ll be buried and this can take up to 5 years until the day of your cremation and soul retrieval! It takes so long until the family have gathered enough money to perform a cremation.
31 The Tooth Filing Ceremony: This ceremony is held when a Balinese reaches puberty in order to ward off evil spirits! Each Balinese’s top six teeth are filed down – these 6 teeth symbolise anger, jealousy, desire, confusion, greed and drunkenness. So by filling those up, the Balinese prevent the entering of these bad habits into the body.
32 Balinese Babies are Considered Little Angels! The Balinese carry the babies everywhere (!) during the first few months of their lives! The babies are not allowed to touch the ground because the bad spirits do live there.
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