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Ceremonies Create Connection

Balinese Hindus observe the state laws of Indonesia and also the complex traditional guidelines (adat or Desa Pekraman) which govern cultural and religious life according to the Desa (place), Kala (time), Patra (condition).

Balineses are competitive as anyone around schooling, business and career. However in cultural and religious activities, Balinese are highly cooperative. Few cultural or religious activities can be carried out alone.

bali ceremony

Men, women and communities work together to create the colorful ceremonies of family, temple and public life.

A family ceremony-such as blessing a new house - new baby or marriage – will involve extended family and immediate neighbors. The whole village or neighboring villages cooperate in the more elaborate temple ceremonies – perhaps providing Pesantian (Balinese choir), Gamelan (gong orchestra) or ceremonial dancers.

Sacred Barong groups travel to perform ngelawang – blessing homes, rice fields and villages.
Major ceremonies, such as inaugurating a new temple or priest, must be witnessed by other village leaders, government officials or even the President of Indonesia – who has witnessed centennial ceremonies at Mother Temple Besakih. Even cremations often happen communally with many families working together to create elaborate towers and effigies to be burned.

Ceremonies foster financial reciprocity and circulate energy. Money spent on supplies, clothes and food creates work and business.

The custom of Ngejot means that people feed their neighbors as part of their event; their friends and family bring envelopes of money to help with the expense. The villagers provide rice, coconuts, incense, sugar, coffee, colorful cloth and ceremonial decorations for temples. In return, they receive special food such as lawar or sate.

Some ceremonies include entertainment with music, story, dance, even satirical comedy, so communities laugh, as well as pray together.

Thus ceremonies connect people not only to their gods, but also to each other. Balinese understand that they will need the support of their family and community in the future. So it is important to maintain harmonious relationship now. Despite the modernization and individuality we see at many levels, in their hearts Balinese people support the concept of Ajeg Bali – keeping their traditional communal culture alive and strong through sharing the preparation and performance of ceremonies that create connection.

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