Bali is the one of the island that very famous with art, culture, and the jewel of the Indonesian archipelago it has become a legend. The color and complexity of its religion, the beauty of is people and tranquil richness of its landscape are living expressions of the rest of the world's vision of what a tropical paradise should be.
Bali is an island of paradise, which has been the favorite destination of range of discerning travelers. People have come here for the culture, for the tropical environment, for the beaches. For the diving, the food, the surfing, the shopping. People come here to unwind, become inspired or experience the ultimate adventure. Bali is the island, which has it all.
Bali can be drawn by its colorful culture and fabulous tropical environment. What makes this island paradise particularly fascinating, however, is the enduring quality of the culture, and the way it expressed a harmony with nature.
Bali is unique as having the last dominant and still intact spiritual culture. Many of the traditional rituals and practices are just as alive today as they ever were, and the incredible strength and resilience of the Balinese people and their culture is a testimony to the richness of their faith. It is a fascinating exercise to delve into the past and discover some of the ancient origins of today's practices, to discover how Bali has become what it is today.
The Balinese people have strong spiritual roots and despite the large influx of tourists over the years, their culture is still very much alive.
Majority of Balinese are applying "the Hindu Caste System". The Brahmana, were the priestly caste; The Satria, the warrior-kings; The Wesya, the merchants, together they were the Triwangsa.
The remaining 90 % of the population, the Balinese were
Sudra, not recognized as a caste by the ruling classes, and more commonly referred to as "outsiders". The few Balinese who refused to belong to Hindu society fled inland, and today they are known as the Bali Aga, referring to themselves as the original Balinese.
The sudra lived a feudal existence and were dependent on a Hindu overlord who was supposedly endowed with divine rights. The caste system was strictly adhered to, and women were forbidden on pain of death to marry below their caste, men when merely punished.
The caste system is deeply embedded in the Balinese psyche, and while legally, discrimination by caste is forbidden, the system is inextricably bound to the Balinese identity. In fact, in new encounters a name betrays caste.
Placed just below the equator, Bali has a benign tropical climate. There are two seasons, a short, hot, wet season, and a longer, cooler, dry season. The mountains are wet year round, averaging 2,880 mm (110 inches) of rain. The average temperature in Bali is 26 C (79 F) and humidity is a relentless 75%.
Generally the mountains are about 10 C (50 F) cooler than the coast, and in the dry season the nights can be chilly. The average temperature when wet season 30 - 33 C (89 - 91 F) by day, 24 - 25 C (75 - 77 F) by night.
When south-easterly winds blow from the Australian interior, easing the temperature by 2 - 3 C (36 - 37 F). Bali often experiences northeast and southwest monsoons, but being close to the equator has no typhoons and cyclone.
Nestled in the Indonesian archipelago, Bali belongs to the chain of islands that links South-East Asia With Australia, and divides the Pacific and Indian Oceans. A twinkle among the 13,677 islands in the Republic of Indonesia, Bali remains distinct in is beauty of land and culture.
Bali is a mare 80 km (50miles) from north to south, and 150 km (90miles) at its maximum width, with area of 5,632 sq km (2,095 sq miles). Located in the equatorial belt, it is 115 degrees east longitude, 8 degrees south latitude. The north and the south are virtually severed by a mountainous ridge of volcanoes, the biggest being the active Gunung Agung (3142 m / 10,308 ft), "navel of the world" and "throne of the gods".
The Balinese are obsessed with the volcanoes. Although eruptions area devastating to the people and villages, the rich volcanic ashes regenerate the soils, and the volcanic terrain makes the island ideal fir rice growing, and every volcano, lake, and spring is revered for its live-giving qualities.
Traditionally, the social organization of the island is based on the
village (desa adat), with a complex network of religious, social and economic associations. Within each banjar are family compounds, which extend the clan beyond parents and children.
Most villages are organized according to spatial orientation, and the most important points of reference are "kaja" (towards Gunung Agung) and kelod (seawards). Each village has three temples arranged according to these directions. The pura desa, literally the temple of the village, stands in the center of the village, while at the northern end of the village is the pura puseh, a temple of origin dedicated to the spirits of the land. Both of these temples are oriented to kaja and the sacred Gunung Agung. On the other hand, the pura dalem or temple of the dead, as well as the village burial ground face kelod.
The governing body of each neighborhood is the banjar, a democratic association of married men, who make all the decisions pertaining to the village. The bale banjar is the meeting place for the banjar as well as all villagers, feasts are prepared, games are held, and dances practiced. Sometimes the villagers even sleep there.
The average Balinese who deals with tourists is usually conversant with one of the Balinese dialects as well as the "language of courtesies", Bahasa Indonesia (the official language of Indonesia) and English.
Although English is widely spoken and most children are taught English at school from the age of 12, Bahasa Indonesia is fast becoming the lingua franca.