Multimedia & Video > Beauty, spirituality and warmth: The Balinese

Beauty, spirituality and warmth: The Balinese

I wanted to share the beauty and culture of the Balinese. What made an especially strong impression on me was how the Balinese men, women and children live their lives by the mantras of family, spirituality and serenity. There is no place for anger or animosity in their lives. Bali’s sacred space can be felt through the friendly, artistic and spiritual nature of its people.

I tried to capture a feel for the everyday lives of the Balinese on walks and bike rides through the local villages – watching the Balinese preparing their rice fields for harvest, giving the many offerings at family and community temples, the bustle of towns filled with “family” motorbikes, the beauty of its lush tropical jungles, even the pride they take in their beautiful hotels (their #1 industry).

And the unique ceremonies – the elaborate (and extremely expensive) cremation ceremony – their way of showing respect for a soul destined to have considerable God-like powers over those left behind. (Unlike the death rites of other religions, the physical body is not the focus, as it is seen as nothing more than a temporary container of the soul and fit only for expedient disposal.) The body must be burned before the soul can leave it completely, being freed to be eventually reincarnated.

We were fortunate to experience one of the most important Balinese Hindu’s elaborate festivals – Galungan (the tradition every 210-days celebrating the triumph of Dharma –order, virtues over Adharma – evil, the unnatural). During Galungan the spirits of their ancestors descend from heaven to live with the family only to return ten days later on Kuningan. The families busily prepare for a month before making decorations, cooking rice cakes and collecting incense.   We marveled in the creation of the elaborate Panjor’s – prepared and hung outside every family compound.   Created by the men from a tall bamboo pole woven with coconut leaves, it holds decorations of fruit, cakes and flowers – and is displayed outside of each compound beautifully framing the streets of each village. On the actual day of the festival, everyone dresses in their best clothes and jewelry and makes an offering to the family shrine.

Thank you to Backroads, Inc. – Paul, Wayan and our wonderful drivers for arranging such a special biking trip!

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Music: My Secret Place, from the album Retreat to Ubud – The Sacred Ayung River by Maharani records.