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Indonesia » Bali » Tourist Guide » Bali Heritage » Balinese Culture
Balinese Culture
by: Celestine

The expression of Balinese society can be seen from their culture, religion, and art. Religious, cultural and art aspects reflect the interaction and mergence of the Balinese community. Besides making their homes in Bali though, the Balinese people have transmigrated throughout the other provinces of Indonesia. Yet they are all united by a cultural consciousness based on both local and national identities and connected by a belief in the Hindu religion. Over 90% of the Balinese are Hindus.

Traditionally, Balinese people are bound together by aspects of their social life, such as:

  • Obligation to pay homage to a certain temple
  • Community involvement
  • Property ownership and partnership in the irrigation system organization (subak)
  • Social status
  • Family relationship based on patrilineal principles
  • Membership in village social organizations (sekehe)
  • Recorded as a part of a particular community

  The population of Bali is distributed in two areas: those who live in the mountain regions and those who live the flatlands. In the mountain areas, the customary villages are centralized and concentrated, whereas in the flatlands, they are spread out and divided into smaller social groups called banjars. According to their purpose, Balinese village structures are divided into three categories:

  • Places for worship - the Pura, or temples
  • Public buildings - community halls and meeting houses.
  • Residences - individual living compounds.

The arrangement of the living compounds varies slightly depending on which part of the island it occupies and the customs of the people who practises it.

Balinese Life
The strong cultural identity of Bali is based on a combination of closely related elements such as the unique religion, the language, the castes, the community life, the land cultivation and the expression of its art. Of the four castes, Brahmana, Satria and Wesia represent 10% of the population whereas the Sudras represent the great majority. The caste system, still very much alive today, is a regulator, apart from their religious power, of the different levels of the Balinese language.