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Bali’s Hindu Culture

Ik hou van Bali-podcast

The history of Bali is based on Hindu Culture. About 86% of the people are Hindus. It is a special kind of Hinduism in Bali, with a strong Buddhist influence. For example, cows are not holy. Other than in India, beef is food here. Here are some curious facts, but don't take them too seriously, mate!

About Bali's Hindu Culture

  1. Three times a day the Balinese Hindus practice a ceremony. Every house has its temple, where the daily blessings and thankfulness ceremonies take place. They dress up with a sarong, put offerings on their temple, bless them, burn incense sticks, sit down for prayer, and meditate to become very calm and relaxed.
  2. Due to practicing thankfulness three times a day, they live an almost fear-free life. that's why I believe thankfulness practice is the most valuable part of their culture. Because thankfulness is the emotional opposite of fear. One can not feel both of those feelings at the same time. The Balinese have a big risk tolerance, whereas in the western world, people search for certainty and security, and end up in fear. The Hindus laugh their heads off when telling them, that Germans have liability insurance for their pet's health.
    Even their fear of death is almost gone. They believe in rebirth. Death is the liberation of the soul from the body. Reincarnation is like getting rid of an old car, happily awaiting a new one. Even if we can't know for sure if reincarnation is possible: If it makes dealing with death that much easier, it's a great concept.
  3. There is at least one public temple on every street. Some are located in the center of crossroads, or roundabouts. The public ceremonies are lively, happy, social events. People come together to talk, eat, drink, and smoke together. While the Mangku sings mantras, rings a bell, and blesses everyone and everything that gets in his way. Foreigners, who are called Bule, are always welcome to join the ceremonies, but never get forced to become Hindu. Also, children enjoy proudly traditionally dressed, to participate in those ceremonies. Not like in a Christian church, where children are often forced to go to church. And most of them hate it. Because they have to sit quietly with a serious face and shut up.
    Each temple celebrates at least two big public ceremonies a year, plus one for every new and full moon. That makes Bali the place with the most public holidays per year in the world!
  4. Hindus coming back from the ceremony, happily search for direct eye contact. And if you reply, you receive the brightest smile of positive energy you can imagine. It is like therapy, that puts you instantly in a good mood!
  5. In Bali's hindoeïstische cultuur geloven ze in karma. Daarom zijn de Balinezen altijd vriendelijk en lachend. Verder geloven ze dat zolang ze genoeg geven, ze genoeg van het universum zullen ontvangen. En het lijkt voor hen best goed te werken!
  6. The resilience of this culture against western influences is impressive. Traditions are still maintained in places like Canggu and Ubud, which attract the majority the foreign visitors. However, some cultural places are commercialized as tourist attractions. Famous examples are the Temple Tana Lot or Uluwatu. But thousands of other temples are almost untouched.
  7. On Nyepi, the Balinese Day of Silence or Balinees nieuwjaar the entire island goes for 24 hours offline to pray and meditate undistracted. Yes, the internet providers turn off the service!

    Bali Day of Silence Nyepi – Pawai Ogoh Ogoh 2023

  8. The Pawai Ogoh-Ogoh ceremonies take place on the night before Nyepi. It's the Balinese New Year's Eve. And it is like a carnival! This video shows, why Bali is offline on Nyepi 😇

    Because they are doing so much damage to the internet connection cables during the Ogoh Ogoh ceremonies!!!🤣

  9. The tolerance one experiences as a foreigner for being different is amazing. I always thought the Buddhists play best in this discipline, but the Balinese made me overthink that oppinion. They accept you as you are, without racism. And they do not try to make you a Hindu. They do not need to do so. Everybody, who resonates with this culture, adapts some of the nice habits after a while anyway. And a look at a westerner's face already tells you, if they mentally arrived in Bali.
  10. Optimisme
  11. The high spiritual consciousness and healing abilities of the Mangkus need to be experienced to be able to believe it.

The following is not essentially related to Bali's Hindu culture, but rather general experiences about Indonesia.

  1. Speed of progress
    Whenever I returned to Bali after a 4 to 6-week business trip, I was impressed by the progress of the construction sites that just got started when I left Bali. Because, when I returned, the building was ready, and the shops inside them already opened. In Germany, they would not even have started the bloody paperwork during that time.
    The most curious about it: Usually, there is no big machinery in place. And the construction workers are usually sitting in the shade and smoking a cigarette. I haven't found out yet, how they succeed like that! Well, the quality of the construction is often another ambiguous story.
  2. A lack of understanding of mathematics, awareness of noise and environmental pollution, hygiene, and ergonomy*.
    • Mathematics is an almost not existing science here. It is quite common, that the people working at the cashier of restaurants day-in-day-out are calculating everything with a pocket calculator. Not only, if they have to add an odd tax percentage. But also, for two items that cost IDR 20,000 and 30,000. And then, if you pay with an IDR 100,000 banknote, they still calculate the change with it, punching in all of the zeros, instead of calculating: 20+30-100.
    • Knallpot terrorists are creating an annoying noise. Knallpot is the Dutch word for the exhaust pipe. The density of bike riders, that ride around a rotten knallpot as their dick extender is unpleasant high. For a long time did not know, how to deal with that noise, which made me angry and furious. But lately, I just keep thinking:

"Tuhan, berkatimu dengan otak.
Dan knalpot baru!"

God bless you with brains.
And a new knalpot!

Now, I can laugh about it. Not always, but at least most of the time.

    • Eating with the hands is common. And in small restaurants they put the food by hand on your plate and also collect the money, continuing serving the next customer, without washing their hands in between. Now, what happens? Nothing! My impression is, that Indonesians are in general more healthy than westerners. And I think the low hygienic standards are helpful to train the immune system, so Indonesians have a strong immune system. Whereas, in most highly developed countries hygiene is over-exceeded. And due to that, most people have a weak immune system. Too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing. This might not be the only reason, why Indonesia only got low infection rates from the latest "brain disease". But double-check which counties got hit the worst and the least, and compare their hygiene levels!
    • Still, a lot of plastic rubbish ends up in the rivers, the ocean, and rice fields. Nature is strong and covers it soon with rich green vegetation. But especially at the beginning of the rainy season, the rivers spit the shit out all in one junk into the ocean. There it gets washed on the beaches, for which the amount of water didn't last to carry it to the river mouth. Luckily the awareness is growing. In 2017 the beach in Kuta looked like a plastic rubbish tip. But since 2017 they use sand cleaning machines. Each night after high tide they drive along the beach and collect all the rubbish that got washed on the shore.
    • Many things are designed and it is just a pain in the ass to use them. Chairs with too-long legs and sharp edges without a bolster. So that, your feet are not reaching the ground, and the edges cut off the blood flow in the hamstrings. Or the 40 cm high steps of those stairs. As a therapy against it, I only can recommend this pain-release meditation.

Verander elke pijn in de kont in hartplezier: geleide meditatie

Experiencing this, I keep asking myself:

When did the last Indonesian ergonomist* die?
Not at all. The first hasn't been born yet!

Bali still is a minor economy in Indonesia. The 4.3 million Balinese represented 1.6% of Indonesia's population of 270 million people in 2020. But Bali's US$ 60 billion nominal gross domestic product (GDP) is less than 1.5 % of the Indonesian GDP of 4 trillion US$. The majority is driven by tourism, attracting about a quarter of Indonesia's international visitors, 16 million in 20219.

And Balli's second biggest industry is probably building temples!

* An ergonomist is a specialist in the efficiency of a working environment.

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