Bali culture has made this luxury destination a highly sought after location in Asia.
Many tourists often cite fond memories of their Bali trip. Of course, the reasons vary from scenic locations to excellent service. But the real reason for these experiences comes from the influence of the locals, their attitude towards tourists, the infrastructure, and the impact of Bali culture on it all. While it’s easy to grasp the service and hospitality, the island's culture is deep-rooted and requires a bit of understanding to fully appreciate it impact on your visit. Knowing about Bali culture will help you know what to expect when you visit.
All About Bali Culture
Bali culture is known to have a modern outlook that attracts tourists. However, it also has a traditional feel and expressive forms through its religion, music, dance, food, festivals, traditions, clothing, arts, and language.
What is Bali culture like?
Balinese culture and traditions are a blend of age-old customs and modern approach to life. While they have maintained their roots, there are some finer cultural aspects which are worth knowing.
Balinese culture is multi-religious and is open to the practice of all religions. However, the dominant religion is Hinduism. As such, there is a strong focus on the Hindu gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva on this beautiful island. Even still, you'll find people following Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity.
For instance, Agama Hindu Dharma is a blend of Shiva worship and Buddhism that originated on Java, the biggest island in Indonesia. A strong influence of Agama Hindu Dharma is observed across Bali, and you can expect the worshiping of idols seen in Bali temples. Besides the presence of ancestral worship and belief in spirits, reincarnation is also examined.
2. Music & Dance
Music and dance form an essential part of Bali culture. In fact, dance forms are traditional, and they have their roots in the classical methods like Wali dances, Bebali dances, and balih-balihan dances. While Wali dances mean ‘sacred’ and are performed as offerings to God, the Bebali dance is a ceremonial dance. However, unlike these two, the balih-balihan is a secular dance that can be performed for entertainment only.
Besides dances, music is also a celebrated occasion. Even though there are many festivals to celebrate, the Cudamani is a popular, artistically famous music and dance festival native to Bali. Therefore, it’s a creative expression, and beautiful enactments have a global appeal. Cudamani also has international tours.
In certain aspects, locals in Bali stick to Balinese traditions. Even though western calendars are followed, the traditional ‘wuku’ and ‘saka’ calendars are referenced. Among all festivals, the Galungan is the main one celebrated across Bali. Thus, people dressed in festive clothes celebrate the festival for ten days. Similarly, June is the kite flying festival. July –August marks the celebration of Kuta which has sports, dance, parades and delicious food served.
The national costume of Bali is batik and kebaya. Mostly seen in traditional ceremonies, these costumes are also complemented by others like baju adat and pakaian adat, which feature traditional textiles.
Another often seen clothing accessory is the headgear that varies across different regions. The peci is the national headgear. Besides peci, the other gear worn by men is udeng, bugis and dayak.
Similarly, women wear headgear; however the distinct decorative and metal pieces on it make it well-loved across Bali. Some headgear worn by women are Minang, Palembang, and Lampung.
Traditional dishes in Bali are satay meat-based dishes and babi gulinga roasted pork dish. You'll also taste betutu, a whole chicken or duck dish, and lawar, made by chopping meat. Besides meat, other wholesome dishes consist of rice, vegetables, and condiments. Another recipe is the nasi tepeng which is a cross between rice and porridge.
Art is seen as you travel the length and breadth of Bali. And, it comes in a variety of forms, including: painting, mask carving, wood carving, stone carving, and jewelry. Classical paintings have the ancient art and design that showcase Balinese history and culture. Mask carving is also a unique feature where specialized workers deliver high-quality masks with intricate carvings. Stone carvings are prominently seen in Kapal.
7. Martial Art
Martial art is a popular form of art practiced in Bali culture. Some of them include silat, mepantigan fought in mud, Bali Bakti Negara, and tarung derajat, a modern martial art in Bali. Besides these, kickboxing is also seen in Bali culture.
Most Bali nationals are proficient in Balinese and Indonesian language. If you are traveling to Bali, you’ll be delighted to know that English is also popularly spoken by the locals, thereby leading to a high influx of tourists.
9. Business Culture and Tradition in Bali
On a business trip, your primary purpose would be to network and build relations. However, taking into account the local culture and traditions can create a harmonious transition for your among the local business and also ensure a warm welcome from them.
Business is the Bali culture is as in any other country. However, there are subtle differences that set it apart. When in a meeting, it is respectful to greet elders. When introducing yourself, shake with the right hand. If you are offered food, it is a polite gesture to take a few bites if you are not comfortable with the entire meal.
Emails might take time to respond. However, wait for some time for a response. While formal clothes are encouraged for a meeting, avoid being too casual. Engaging in Indonesian or Balinese is highly encouraged though English is also prominently spoken. Aggressive nature should be avoided as far as possible.
How Has Bali Culture Evolved?
Over the years, Bali culture has become inclusive. Even though it still retains its traditional roots, it has managed to adapt and also attract foreigners to visit. In fact, its scenic locations and beautiful natural habitat only serve to highlight both traditional and modern amenities in the comfort of Bali.
Even as the traditional Bali culture has evolved, it continues to stick to its core traditions without having to turn to the western culture completely. Its religion is conservative to its practice yet open to all faiths. Therefore, while music and dance have adapted to western influences, it has also nurtured its roots of traditional Balinese music and dance, a fact that is aptly evident in its dance practices.
Furthermore, you get the best international cuisine in Bali and there is no shortage of traditional foods to whet your appetite. Also, if martial arts excites you, you will not be disappointed with the full range of forms in Bali. Even better, Bali offers many martial art classes that are open to locals as well as tourists.
Another advantage of the Bali culture is its progressive and welcoming nature. To enumerate, the moment you step in Bali, you'll be met with a largely English speaking population that makes it easy to communicate and converse.
The Best Way for Tourists to Enjoy Bali Culture
Often tourists cite the beautiful Bali beaches as a way to enjoy Bali. However, learning about Bali culture and enjoying the finer nuances can give you exciting new adventures to experience.
- Bali culture is as vibrant as its omnipresence across its textiles, art, religion, food, and music. And, from surfing to adventure rides on high mountains, you get to experience the welcoming nature of the locals. Even as nature embraces you, there are artificial slides to give you an ethereal experience.
- Different accommodations have the latest technology yet the best hospitable and localized food to make you feel one among them.
- Arts and culture inter-mingle with the best products in stores and also murals in every nook and corner. You can own one of these artifacts for as low as a dollar to high-end products that lavishly displays Balinese culture.
- If you love indulging in shopping, you will not be disappointed. From home-made designs to high-end clothes and home products, you will be spoilt for choice.
- Also, many artists are experts in storytelling and narrating the Balinese stories. Avid tourists also enjoy the occasional dance and art forms that are deep-rooted in Bali culture.
Many tourists prefer the Bali culture due to its wonderful mix of traditional and western influence. You'll find that the locals are friendly and hospitable. This certainly assists in helping you navigate the destination and be comfortable.
Traditional Bali culture has an impact on many aspects of daily life, yet it is modern in its approach towards people and other cultures.
Bali culture is known for its hospitality and warmth. We hope you get a glimpse of this warmth on your next visit to Bali.
If you have decided on a trip to Bali, let us know in the comments your favorite places to visit. For those new to Bali culture, share this list with them and help them quickly understand the subtler nuances.
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