It is 5623 sqm fertile mountainous island, terraced rice-field dominates the landscape, with small streams bring water for irrigation. Bali boasts a tropical climate with just two seasons (wet and dry) a year and an average annual temperature of around 28 degree celcius. The majority of Bali's 3 millions people live, for the most part, in tight village communities with large extended families. Bali has many roads which criss-cross the island, connecting villages and cities in Bali which has many tourist beach resorts as well as village and mountain resorts.
Bali's culture, unique arts of music and dances, quality products in some forms of painting, weaving, carving, plaiting / basketry etc, colorful ceremonies almost daily in some different temples, gentle and friendly people practice their unique way of life, Interesting places for sightseeing from simple to special interest, adventure activities, endless shopping as well as scenic beauty make an Island becomes the most favorite places to visit. Those are good for holiday makers, sports and leisure, business meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions in recommended hotels, convention center from the most simple to theme of extravagance.
Balinese culture is based on its unique form of Hinduism called "Hindu Bali" which it retained after the Islamisation of Java and developed through the centuries. The Balinese have managed to preserve their culture despite of overwhelming foreign influence brought by increasing number of visitors to Bali. Villagers spend their free time in these arts, music and dancing which is taught from a very young age. The soul of Balinese is their religion and it finds its expression in the arts. Spare the time to visit the Island as the only way to feel the experience as above.
Culture, People and Religion
Life in Bali is very communal with the organization of villages, farming and even the creative arts being decided by the community. Some aspects of Balinese life are placed in the hands of two traditional committees, such as "subak", concerns the production of rice and organizes the complex irrigation system. This is for everyone who owns a rice padi field, must join their local subak, to ensure that every member gets his fair distribution of irrigation water.
The second community organization is the "Banjar" which arranges all village festivals, marriage ceremonies and cremations. Most villages have at least one banjar and all males have to join one when they marry.
The Balinese are Hindu and the religion is different from that of the Indian variety. The Balinese worship the Hindu trinity Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu, who are seen as manifestations of the Supreme God. Balinese believe strongly in magic and the power of spirits, and much of their religion is based upon this.
Daily offerings is a significant role in Balinese life as they appease the spirits and thus bring prosperity and good health to the family. Festivals are another great occasion for appeasing the Gods. There are traditional dances and music of Balinese gamelan in the festivities.
Reme these are serious occasions and should be treated as such. Religious guidlines
- Always wear a sarong and sash.
- Do not walk in front of people praying.
- Do not use flash camera or push your camera into the priest's face!
- Never sit higher than priest or the offerings
- At cremation, do not get in the way of the attendees - however important that photographic opprtunity is!
- Women are not allowed to enter temples during menstruation.
Art & Artists
For centuries, Balinese artists and craftsmen worked in a natural capacity for absorbing different cultural elements and blending them with their own. The artists themselves never signed their work and usually lived close together in artist's villages. However with the arrival of European artists at the start of this century, this soon began to change. The local artists started developing their own individual styles of Painting on different villages.
For those who love Stone Carving, Bali's modern-day centre of stone carving is the village of Batubulan, situated halfway between the towns of Denpasar and Ubud. Stone carving were mainly used to decorate temples and palaces, however in this modern time, it used to decorate Balinese compound and its gates, villas and boutique resort to make the outlook more luxury.
Another art of Wood Carving has traditionally featured largely in temple and palace architecture, such as on pillars, door panels, window shutters with the aim of protecting the buildings from evil intruders.
Bali textile has the rich variety of Cloth and Materials that are to be seen in thousand of shops throughout the island. Batik clothes and sarongs available everywhere and mainly imported from Java. Bali has also its own Balinese traditional clothes. The beautiful "songket" gold and silver threads are woven into the cloth to create complex motifs of birds, flowers, butterflies etc. "Endek" cloth is also another method used in Bali, it is good for sarong and top dress.
Dance and Drama
Dance and drama have historically played an important role in Balinese society. Through this medium, people learned about the tales of the Ramayana, Mahabarata and other epic stories form Balinese history. Some brief descriptions of well-known dance-dramas that can be seen at regular performances, throughout Bali.
- Barong Dance (Barong and Rangda) : It is a story about the struggle between good and evil. Good is personified by the Barong Keket, a strange, fun loving creature in the shape of a shaggy semi-lion. Evil is represented by Rangda, a witch.
- Baris Dance : This is a warrior’s dance. It is usually performed by men, either solo or in a group of six or more.
- Kecak Dance : The Kecak dance originated from the Sanghyang dance choirs, who chant a distinctive "kechak-khecak" accompaniment. Story in this dance is derived from Ramayana epic.
- Legong Dance : It is a very classical and graceful dance, and is always performed by prepubescent girls, often as young as eight or nine years old.
- Sanghyang Trance Dance : Sanghyang Dedari is performed by 2 girls and these girls are supposedly untrained and can keep their eyes are firmly shut. Sanghyang Jaran, a boy dances around and through a fire, riding a coconut palm hobbyhorse. This is frequently called the Fire Dance. In both dances, a priest is always on hand to help bring the dancers out of their trance-state at the end of the performance.
- Arja and Drama Gong : A performance of Arja, Balinese folk opera, can hold an entire village engrossed from late evening until nearly sun-rise. Love stories drawn from the classics of the ancient king-doms of Java are reenacted with all of the tragicomic and ro-mantics ingridients guaranteed to appeal. The royal characters move in a slow stylised dance and sing and talk in a high fal-setto using high Balinese which is translated into the common language and which is much more easily understood by the audience. Drama Gong is a development of Arja that is pre-formed by actors and a musical group without dance and has recently become very popular in the community.
- Ramayana : The epic story of Rama and Sita, often performed as a mixture of traditional dance and modern motifs of comedy. The monkeys enjoy artistic liberty and the unforgettable character Hanuman, the white monkey general regularly enthralls audiences.
- Shadow Theater : A white screen, a flame, music, and traditional puppets....conjuring a magical and hypnotic performance.
- Wayang Kulit (Shadow Puppet) : Wayang Kulit is one of the great story-telling traditions of the Javanese and Balinese. The Wayang show normally consists of a small 4-pieces orchestra, which provides the musical accompaniment, around 60' puppets' carved out of flat of pieces of water buffalo hide and Dalang, or Puppet master. Good characters normally speak in ancient 'Kawi' and evil or coarse characters speak Balinese.
- Arjuna Wiwaha Ballet : Arjuna is one of the principal characters in the Hindu epic of the Mahabrata. The Arjuna Wiwaha Ballet describes the nobility and heroism of Arjuna. It is a tribute to his strength of character and devotion to the God Indra. The Ballet opens with the meditation of Arjuna, who is seeking the blessing of God Indra to test his perseverance and spiritual strength. The God puts him through many trials and send beautiful nymphs to break his concentration, but they fail. He then sends the giant Momosimuka to disturb his prayers, but the giant is defeated by Arjuna. Finally, God Shiwa, disguised as a hunter tries to lure Arjuna from his meditation. He too in unsuccessful and Arjuna is accepted by God Indra who give him the arrow of immortality and asks him to guard heaven from the evil giant monster. In the mean while Dewi Supraba, the most dazzling of all the nymphs has discovered that the monster's strength lies in its tongue. While the giant is busy mocking Arjuna, he shoots it in the tongue with his arrow and saves heaven from destruction. Before he departs, he takes the lovely Dewi Supraba as his wife.