The Story of Shinta – by Amelia Aman

Can Bali Stay Authentic in the Midst of Modernisation? | Written By, Life on the Island |

Shinta, a fifteen year old girl, wakes up at 4.30 A.M every morning on school days. Before she prepares for school, she and her mother pray and bring offerings to their common family temple before sunrise. After that, she gets herself ready, rides her motorbike for 40 minutes to school – a public school, not her first option, but she doesn’t have any choice because of the new zoning school system. On the other hand, her little sister Sari, four years old, will open ‘YouTube Kids’ soon after she wakes up in the morning.
– Submission by Amelia Aman 

Shinta and Sari live in a traditional Balinese house with other aunties, uncles, and a teen niece. The family lives near a shopping market that mostly plays K-Pop songs for the customer, even though, obviously, the song selection is actually based on the staff’s preference. Those K-Pop songs could be heard clearly from their house. 

Shinta, Sari, and their family live 3km from Ubud centre. Even here, a lot of paddy terraces have already become new real estate, like villas, guest houses, restaurants, or art shops, places that the locals are unlikely to use. Thirteen years ago, when Shinta and Sari’s mother moved to Ubud when she got married, the neighbourhood was largely surrounded by paddy fields. 

All of those are the effects of modernisation and development on the Islands of the Gods, Bali. Not only here but almost at every place in the world. Unfortunately, we can’t build a big wall to stop these changes. So could be the traditional culture vanish? How can Bali stay authentic amid these changes? 

Modernisation and development is a human creation. But so is culture; traditional culture was created too by humans. So it is the choice of the next generation whether to preserve this culture or not. Can people decide to stop preserving this culture? Yes. A massive stop may won’t happen quickly, especially in Bali, because Balinese culture is heavily based on their faith. The unique gates, a beautiful small temple in the forest, a careful carving, the delicate dance and music that accompanies it, all of those practices have meanings that can be found in Balinese majority faith, Hinduism. So, as long as they keep their faith, Bali’s culture and authenticity will be still sustainable. 

Shinta and Sari receive Hinduism study at school, which is mostly theories. At home, their parents teach them how to practice their faith and implement those theories in their daily routine. Their parents regularly bring those girls at the more prominent temple; engage in various religious events, there, with other kids, they also receive further learning from the leader. Finally, the studies and practices slowly integrate into these girls’ lives and make their faith stronger. And hopefully, in the future, they will continue to teach their descendants. Then by doing so, aware or not, Shinta and Sari, with other children, preserve their culture that makes Bali stay authentic. 

Every day, before sunset, Shinta prays and brings offerings to the temple; she can do this practice alone.

– Submission by Amelia Aman 

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