Balinese Hinduism

A Faith of Harmony

  • The early history of Hinduism
  • Balinese Hinduism
  • Hinduism after the Independence day of Indonesia
  • Holy temples
  • Ceremonies
  • Religious Festivals
  • Offerings
  • The Deities, Ancestors and Important Holy Figures
  • The dark sides
  • Odalan

Hinduism in Bali

Balinese Hinduism is very closely related to the Hinduism in Indian history. Their beliefs are then not only based on the Vedic bible but also on ancient writings, philosophies and various living arrangements with many different theories that all support each other. Therefore, Hinduism is not really a dogmatic religion, but rather a result of a spiritual lifestyle. The traditions that exists in Hinduism also continue to develop and change over time.

Hinduism came to Bali during the arrival of Indian traders. Long before the Islam, Hinduism had stepped into the core beliefs of the people using rituals, traditions, and arts. It also brought with it spiritual ideas, myths and legends – which can be seen in the unique festivals and events associated with the spirits of ancestors and their gods. The temples in Bali also have similar designs and principles to the Indian temples. Balinese calls their sacred temples (Pura), which is a holy place with enclosed walls. There are over 20,000 of temples across the island; each is associated with a certain characteristic such as virtue of descent or geographical area.

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Balinese Hinduism as an Official religion in Indonesia

After the independence of Indonesia, there were efforts emerged to organize the religious life of its citizens that consist of various dimensions and beliefs, with a basic ideology called Pancasila ("Panca" means five, "Syila" means basic, so it can be interpreted as five basic ideologies for the country). In the first precept which says “Ketuhanan yang maha esa”, it is explicitly referring to believe and worship only one God/ Goddess. This was happened to be some kind of polemic at that time in the legalization of Balinese Hinduism as one of the official religions in Indonesia, at that time Balinese Hinduism was only considered as a sect of religion not yet a religion. But Balinese did not want to give up, they continue to struggle to validate their faith and beliefs as a religion recognized by the country. After a long journey and all the hard struggles by the heads of religions, cultural observers and various parties related to Bali Hinduism, finally it was established as one of the official religions in Indonesia in 1959.

Balinese Hinduism can be simply defined as a combination of 2 beliefs, the Shiva sect of Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhism, that is why it is also often to be called as the Shiva-Buddhist, Hindu-Dharma, Tirtha religions and also the Holy Water Religion. However, unlike polytheistic Indian Hinduism, in the belief of Balinese Hinduism they only worship one God, called Sang Hyang Widi or Sang Hyang Widhi, Acintya or Sang Hyang Tunggal. With the main scriptures of the Vedas and also some holy writings about life arrangement called Shruti (gospels passed down by the Rsi in ancient times), Smerti (literature inherited from generation to generation, non-revelation writings) and Yadnja (the rules of religious operations including about rituals and ceremonies that are engraved on lontar leaves) But the true Balinese Hinduism is actually more into a personal spiritual experience and individual's journey in finding meaning on their life, so that it can reach perfection through “moksa”, not only based on certain dogmas. Comparing Hinduism as a dogmatic religion, with others, is something that unlikely appropriate because in essence Balinese Hinduism is rooted from doctrines originating from the spiritual traditions of Nusantara that have been existed since thousands of years ago, along with the uniqueness, characteristics, and enlightenments of saints who actually have lived in this land, way back before the country was established.

Harmony of Life

Temples in Bali
The Mother Temple Besakih

Bali Temples

Temples in Bali are the homes of deities. Normally there are at least 3 public temples within each village in Bali.

Temples in Bali

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The colorful ceremonies in Bali

Holy Ceremonies

Bali is renowned for its routine ceremonies, any visitor who spends more than a few days on the island will be certain be able to see it occurs on the street or temples.

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Holy Gods in Bali

Balinese Deities

There are many manifestations of Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa in the form of gods and goddess such as Dewi Sarasvati.

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Canang sari

Religious Offerings

If you walk down any street on Bali, you will see petals of flowers arranged beautifully and put down on the street as an offering.

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High Priest in Bali

The Holy Men

In Bali Priesthood and worship gather people from all walks of life in common devotion.

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Black and White supernatural

Balinese Mythical Creatures

Many Balinese will tell you stories of strange creatures, some of them may you find it scary but not all of them are harmful.

Bali Religious Festival
A Festive Atmosphere of Bali

Bali Religious Festivals

Festivals are held throughout the year, to pass a week without a celebration is highly unlikely.

Bali Religious Festival

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Odalan Festival

Odalan

Odalan ceremony is held once a year based on Balinese calendar, it is long anticipated by the entire village as a day of prayer.

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The Beauty and Complexity of Balinese hinduism

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