Mystery, Myth & Magic


Are the Balinese Becoming ‘Hindu-Protestant’?

Mystery, Myth & Magic | Oct 02, 2020

With respect to the small Protestant community of Bali, the title is not a joke. Because we may be witnessing a uniquely Balinese variation of what happened five hundred years ago in Europe with the Protestant Reformation… What did happen five hundred years ago in Europe? Not much at first, except that some people started […]

Read More

Penjor – Question Marks Against the Sky

Bali's Biggest Celebrations | Sep 03, 2020

Like most storied places around the world, much of today’s Bali is a modern variation on the romanticised images of yesterday. But during Galungan, the quintessential Balinese traditional ceremony, Bali’s roads are arched with enchanting reminders of its ancient past. These arches, made of curved and decorated bamboo poles, are penjor. The archetypal penjor are […]

Read More

Penampahan Galungan: Preparations and Slaughters

Bali's Biggest Celebrations | Aug 03, 2020

It starts suddenly in the middle of the night, while people are sound asleep. It sounds like the wailing of a milk-lusting baby. But the wailing soon dies out into a whine of despair and a last shriek of death. And, as the first light of dawn is rising on the horizon, other similar squealling […]

Read More

The Caste System in Today’s Bali

Culture | Jul 03, 2020

In Bali there remains a caste system, an import of sorts from India. Whilst this caste system once ruled social strata on the island, modernity has changed and moulded the way it is handled and approached today. Michael’s Predicament Michael has a problem. He is an idealist and, at his little diving business in Tanjung […]

Read More

Naur Sot and The Fulfillment of a Vow

Culture | Apr 29, 2020

The atmosphere was not a happy one in Pan Koncrong’s house. His daughter was lying in bed, feverish. An old medicine man (balian) had come and muttered a few magical words.  But now he was gone, and neither his prayers to the gods, nor his potions were working. The child was lying helpless on the […]

Read More

Don’t Touch My Wife : A Story of Castes and Morals

Culture | Mar 15, 2020

What does a bearded priest have in common with a civet cat? This somewhat cheeky story teaches lessons of faithfulness and morality – because in Bali, morals are best taught through the magic of a good story. People visiting Bali are usually made to believe that there is a caste system and that everyone thus […]

Read More

The Idea of Morality in Balinese Culture

Culture | Feb 22, 2020

Journalist Eric Buvelot and socio-ethnologist Jean Couteau have recorded 20 hours of discussion about changes that have happened in Bali since the 70’s. The conversation was structured and segmented according to many different aspects of Balinese life, mostly from a socio-historical perspective, to trace all the overturning in Balinese mores since 50 years, when modernity […]

Read More

Widow Sacfrifices and other Suicides in Bali

Culture | Jan 25, 2020

It is a mistake to think that only bearded men with gleaming eyes seek ‘paradise’ by blowing themselves up in the middle of a crowd. Like it or not, Bali too has its own traditions of horror-inspired paradise seekers. Let us give it a look. Widows’ Sacrifice The most famous of these traditions relates to […]

Read More

Siwa Ratri, The Ritual Wake For The Longest Night of the Year

Culture | Jan 09, 2020

The longest night of the year is a important ritual moment in the life of the Balinese. In the local lunar-solar Saka calendar, it falls on the 14th panglong lunar day of the seventh (Kapitu) month. Fully dedicated to the cult of Siwa, this night is called the Night of Siwa, or Siwa Ratri. The […]

Read More

Changing Caste and Clan in Bali

Culture | Dec 10, 2019

Traditionally the key element of the Balinese religion is not the Hindu gods, but the ancestors. It is to these ancestors that people address their daily prayers. Whenever sons create a new family in a new location, they set up a new family temple or sanggah. From here, they add successively from generation-to-generation: the sanggah […]

Read More