Mystery, Myth & Magic

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 […]

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The Guardian of The Pura Taman Tukad Temple

Culture | Nov 14, 2019

Stuff happens, as people say. No one could have guessed that at first from Ni Nyoman Kerti. Like most other children of the village, she followed her mother’s steps and knew when and where to make offerings. As for the why, the reason was usually given even before she could raise the question: there were […]

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Balinese “Pilgrims” on the Quest for Holy Water

Culture | Nov 01, 2019

Most religions of the world use water and fire as purificatory elements. Water cleans, soothes and fertilises, while fire heats, destroys, and thus cleans too. Water and fire are a part and a parcel of the rituals of religious life and, once in a while, of the political games of men of religion. Bali is […]

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The Dayus: The Brahmin Women of Days Past

Culture | Oct 06, 2019

The girl woke up and lifted her well-balanced shoulders. A watchful look came into her beautiful, Bambi eyes as an elderly woman of 70 or so approached her. “Enough is enough,” said the latter. “You’d better accept your fate! Don’t forget that you are a Dayu and that the choice of your husband is not […]

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The Story of the Origin of Time

Culture | Aug 06, 2019

Bali is an extraordinary place in which, like in ancient Greece and India, there are still stories that can be read as stories, or as philosophical teaching. One of these stories is the Kala Tatwa, the story of the Lord of Time, Batara Kala. The story below is only a slightly edited version of the […]

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Balinese Architecture: A World of Order & Harmony

Culture | Jul 17, 2019

Balinese villages give an extraordinary impression of order. Houses are all identical and strikingly parallel in layout; with family temples, kitchens and rooms occupying the same relative position in the walled compound. Large temples, likewise, all have the same structure with their main shrines occupying the same kaja kangin (east-mountainward) corner. This Balinese sense of […]

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Banyan Trees and the Cult of Ancestors

Culture | Jun 08, 2019

Indonesia is home to one of the most fantastic trees in the world, the banyan tree, locally known as waringin, a kind of ficus. Apart from its size and surface, the most extraordinary aspect of the banyan is its resilience. When its vines touch the ground, they grow into new roots and trunks, spreading out […]

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Early Islam in Bali

Culture | Apr 30, 2019

Ramadan is at the end of May. It may be interesting to the reader to see the way Islam first arrived in Bali. The reality of its arrival is a far cry from the overly dramatic prism through which today’s media tend to present relations between religions. Islam did not arrive in Bali as a […]

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The Royal Politics of Leftover Food in Bali

Culture | Apr 04, 2019

It would be interesting to make a survey, and hence know for sure, what you readers really know of Balinese cuisine. Excuse my arrogance, but I am pretty sure that many of you, when thinking of Balinese cuisine, have something in mind that did not exist forty years ago. Yes, much of what you find […]

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What does Arjuna’s Path to Enlightenment Have to do With World Peace?

Culture | Feb 27, 2019

If we want to understand Balinese culture, we have to look deeply into its complex roots. Just as a tree draws its essence from an intricate and dispersed root system, the essence of today’s Balinese culture draws from ancient beliefs in animism and a pantheon of gods and ancestors, and the much later absorption of […]

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