Mystery, Myth & Magic


Bodily Care in Bali: Toothbrushing, Delousing & Bathing

Culture | Jun 19, 2017

Balinese are nowadays basically like you and me. So when they kiss, it is on the mouth. Yet, if you pay attention, or are in the middle of a kiss, you may notice a difference. All of a sudden, and without understanding his/her logic, you may see your Balinese partner take himself/herself off your mouth, […]

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Changes in Balinese Religion: Hinduism Strengthens

Culture | May 16, 2017

When we talk about Balinese religion, we tend to immobilise it into intemporality, as if the kind of religious belief and practice that existed 100 years ago when the Dutch took over Bali, was still valid today. Of course the Balinese continue referring to a belief system that combines cult of ancestors and natural forces […]

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Caste in Modern Balinese Hinduism

Culture | Apr 03, 2017

Since the puputans (fight to the end) of 1906 and 1908, which destroyed the political system of Bali and integrated the island into the Dutch-run archipelago, the Balinese quadripartite caste system (Brahmana, Satria, Wesia and Sudra) has undergone many changes, some inherent to the economic transformation of Balinese society itself, other origination in the exposure […]

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Explaining Nyepi Day of Silence and the Çaka Calendar

Bali's Biggest Celebrations | Mar 28, 2017

How do Westerners open the New Year? With revelry. How do the Balinese open their own New Year. With a full day of silence, called Nyepi. But what is Nyepi exactly? Bali is indeed a “different” place, with different rules, people and beliefs and we ĺare fortunate to have our historian and anthropologist Jean Couteau to […]

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Melasti: Island-Wide Purification

Culture | Mar 23, 2017

One of the precursors to Nyepi is the melasti ceremony, also known as ‘melis’. Whilst just as visually extravagant as a piodalan temple ceremony, melasti is of incredible importance to the annual (and sometimes more) rites of the Balinese Hindu. During this ceremony, lines and lines of local Hindus will journey to the sea or […]

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Sebel: A Taste of Blood in Bali

Culture | Mar 23, 2017

Balinese society, like all societies, show numerous features of gender inequality in rights, status or simply behaviour. One of the most persistent imbalances pertains to the perception of female sexuality as being basically “impure” (sebel). Blood is associated in Balinese religion with negative forces, the butakalas. It is the main ingredient of the offerings addressed […]

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What About Love in Bali

Culture | Feb 01, 2017

Have you ever thought about what love making entails when you cross a border and change cultural background. You may say the basic working of the thing is similar, and, as a frequent traveler, I will tend to agree of course…But, as you know, in some countries, people eat bread, in others, rice. So while […]

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Chinese-Indonesian Identity in the 21st Century

Culture | Jan 19, 2017

Identity, especially in a country as large and diverse as Indonesia, can be a confusing and somewhat muddled topic. For centuries, the Indonesian archipelago has been subject to the mixing of cultures, religions races, ethnicities and so on, resulting in the ‘Indonesian people’ of today. However, it is perhaps Chinese Indonesian identity that stands out the […]

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Lunacy in Bali

Culture | Dec 23, 2016

Children always follow him wherever he goes, shouting and throwing stones at him. He is about 40, dressed in rags, carrying a worn-out leather bag. On his head is a cardboard box containing various kinds of rags and a worn-out mat. He wears a shoe on one foot and a slipper on the other. His […]

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The Muda Mudi Youth Association

Culture | Nov 23, 2016

Outside the building, two young girls are giggling. Above the entrance hangs a big board with the word “Bar” written in awkward letters. Shadows dance as red lights flash on and off to the beat of hard-rock music. Boys are sitting, drinking, surrounded by pretty girls. Is it a go-go bar? Have the Bangkok lights […]

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