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Journey to Wonderland - Bali, Indonesia

Updated: Mar 8, 2022

The one factor that puts Bali in a completely different league for us personally is the fact that this is a predominantly Hindu island. Born and raised in India we have witnessed various colours of ‘Hinduism’ but ‘Balinese Hinduism’ is unique. This made it extremely fascinating for us, to see the same fabric but with a beautifully different appearance.The numerous stone temples dotted across the lush green landscape, the fresh and moist tropical air, give Bali its unique ‘mystic’ feel. It is almost like going into a trance!

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple

The Balinese are a very religious and community centred people. At the heart of this is the village, the centre of which is dominated by temples (puras). Village members take part in the various elaborate rituals which require a significant amount of social organization. Balinese homes are built on special architectural principals which ensure harmony of the objects with the cosmos. There are temples in the compounds of homes as well and these can be more elaborate in royal residences (puris). The Balinese experience is a heady concoction of amazing landscape and religious rituals and rich culture. There is an undercurrent of animism (spirit life) and ancestor worship in Balinese culture and shrines and temples are erected and offerings made to appease them. Guardian statues wrapped in poleng clothes can often been seen in Balinese temple forecourts.

One of the many stone sculpture found in all Balinese temples

The airport is like none other! You know you have arrived at a special place. The exhaustion of seeing ‘clean sleek’ modern architecture soon wears off as you enter this paradise with rustic temples adorned with sculptures of Gods and Goddesses and their ‘vahanas’ (vehicles- yes Hindu Gods and Goddesses have their transport taken care of!).

At a traditional Balinese Hindu temple

At a traditional Balinese Hindu temple

Bali is one among the 6000 inhabited islands of Indonesia. In a largely Islamic country, Bali has remained predominantly Hindu. In fact, Hinduism had a strong presence across Southeast Asia a thousand years ago. This was due to the existence of the ancient spice routes which not only helped transfer of goods but also acted as a melting pot of ideas, literature and culture. Indonesia like other regions of Southeast Asia adopted many aspects that are typical of ‘Hinduism’ but with the expansion of Islam in the east, this changed. Bali however was outside of the trade route of Muslim states and therefore managed to remain a Hindu island. Also, the expulsion of high profile religious and literary figures, who then took refuge in Bali helped in the rejuvenation of Hinduism in Bali. There are also other theories if you wish to dive deeper!

A traditional Balinese house

During our stay in Bali we felt a strong sense of pride in the Balinese people about their culture, religion and way of life. Because we could so easily relate to most of their way of like, it was like homecoming for us - but discovering there is a room in our home that we never visited! Now standing in there - it all looks so familiar though you are seeing it for the first time!

Rice terrace - a typical countryside landscape of the island of Bali

A traditional temple procession in Bali

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