The Salt of The Earth: In Praise of Balinese Women

Culture | Written By, Ayu Sekar |

There is never a bad time to show appreciation for the Balinese women. The backbone of the culture and the glue that holds families and lifestyle together, the women of this beguiling island are something to be admired.

  • Text and photos by Jill Gocher (Ayu Sekar) 

Balinese Women

Whether working in the padi fields, carrying bricks to work on some new building project, caring for their children, working in a tourist shop, or massaging some complaining tourist, their spirit remains strong. To the women who fight conventions and take up whatever their passion drives them to, be it art, music, business, teaching or otherwise.

Balinese Women 5

Once they leave home to join their new husband’s family, the women are the ones who take the helm. They cook, keep house, look after the children, and generally provide strength and spiritual support. They are strong yet soft, firm but kind and the essence of any household. They will also be seen each day making offerings for the family compound, or the shop, if they happen to be working. They will do the blessings and distribute the offerings to the far reaches of their compound to keep the spirits at bay, or at least keep them happy.

Balinese Women 2

Time at the temple, after they make the offerings and do the work, is a time for celebration. It provides a chance to dress up in their best finery, put on make up and get ready for the gods, and their friends too. It is a time to relax, because most Balinese women won’t be seen in a disco or club, or even in a nice restaurant, unless they are working there. Yet do they suffer? I don’t believe so.

Balinese Women 4

Their sense of community and sense of belonging more than compensates for the odd meal in a place they cant afford. A saw a generous tourist who passed his Bali friend a $100 note saying “ here you go mate, take your wife out for a nice dinner!” and did he? No, but chances are the money went for a new school uniform for their children, or some household necessity, or perhaps a part payment on their still credited motor bike.

When you see young girls riding out on their motorbikes and having fun, be understanding as their turn will come soon enough! They too are trained from a young age to become the perfect Balinese women when they grow older, learning to dance, to set offerings, to pray – it is not easy feat to be a woman in Bali, so we tip our hats in respect to them.

Balinese Women 3

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