What’s similar between Bali and India? Senior journalist Archana Ravikumar explores!

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Published July 9, 2024 at 8:37pm

    The word Bali reminds you of its crystal blue beaches, scenic environment

    It has its roots in India's religions

    Bali has a lot of commonness with India

The word Bali reminds you of its crystal blue beaches, scenic environment and architectural temples. I visited Bali to get tanned in the crystal blue waters and soak myself in nature (traits of a Cancerian!), while this did happen something else really caught my attention…the Balinese way of life!

Little did I know that I was visiting the country which has my own roots and my own religion. Yes, Balinese follow Hinduism! As a testimony to it, a huge Garuda statue is installed which can be seen from many parts of Bali. Just like in India, they worship Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Ganesha is the most revered God there. Lord Ganesha adorned the entrance of every place we could see.

To every place we went in Bali, we could see small offerings kept to God on a neatly sewn palm leaf with five different varieties of flowers and incense sticks burning. These offerings, statues of Hindu gods, the culture they follow got me curious, curious to know that despite being so many thousands of miles away from our country how did Hinduism even stem here and many such questions.

After much research, I found out that Hinduism spread to Bali from our ancestors who were merchants. They introduced religious concepts, myths, and stories, as evident in the many celebrations honouring the dead and the gods of various cultures. Temples in Bali follow the same architectural principles as their Indian counterparts. The Balinese word for ‘temple’ (Pura) refers to a sacred complex that is often encircled by walls.

Later, until the invasion of Muslim rulers, the entire Indonesia was predominantly Hindu and Buddhist country. Now at present, although Indonesia is a predominantly-Muslim nation, with 86% of its inhabitants identifying as Muslim, Hindus throughout Indonesia make up 1.7% of the population. While this may not seem like a significant percentage, 87% of Balinese people identify themselves as Hindus, making them the third largest religious group in Indonesia.

After knowing this, more questions pondered, despite it being a Muslim country, how is that only Bali survived as a Hindu state? There are many theories around this, according to one of the theories, it is said that there was once a mighty Hindu Empire called Majapahit, and one of its Emperors, Kertabhumi (Brawijaya V), had a Muslim son from one of his concubines, who was a Chinese Muslim Princess from Thailand.

However, being a son of a concubine, he was never accepted as a legal heir. But, as time passed, prince Raden Patah grew up to be a strong-willed young man. He impressed his father with his strength and skills, which eventually led the king to acknowledge him as his son. Raden Patan was a disciple of Sunan Ampel (one of the 9 Evangelists that spread Islam in Java) and hence had a strong Muslim influence.

Although Raden had established his own kingdom, called The Sultanate of Demak, he decided to rebel against his father’s Majapahit empire. His forces managed to drive the Majapahit forces into the sea, forcing them to evacuate to Bali. At this point Raden Patah realized that his father never actually fought back as he loved his son too much. This was a moment of awakening for him as he realized he had committed a grave mistake of rebelling against his own father. He promised his father he would never touch Bali and would never convert the Hindus and Buddhists, people of his father’s faiths to Islam.

Now, let’s have a look at the Godly connection

The Gods predominantly worshipped there are Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Goddess Kali, Lakshmi, Saraswathi and Tridevi (our Goddess Annapurna) are also worshipped. Ramayana and Mahabharata are the most revered epics which can be seen being enacted in every play there. Statues of characters of Mahabharatha like Krishna, Ghatokacha, Arjuna can be seen all across the city.

How close is to our culture

In Bali, (as I earlier mentioned), wherever you go, you will see little baskets on the floor with incense sticks and little goodies such as sweets, fruits and sometimes even some money and chocolates too. These can be found in front of shops and homes, in the middle of cross roads and junctions, and on temple shrines outside and even inside offices, restaurants and basically wherever you go.

When I questioned about this with our guide Komang Astava, he said they were offerings made to God. No Hindu there starts their day without these offerings. Back in our country, in the name of modernisation or living a very mechanical life here, at times we even forget to light a lamp in our houses.

Architectural and ritualistic resemblance to Karnataka

In coastal Karnataka, a lot of importance is given to our ancestors and every house comprises a separate room for God which is outside the house they reside in but within the compound they stay. In the same way, typically in every Balinese house, there is a separate room for God where one pillar is dedicated to God, one to their ancestors and another pillar for offerings.

The people in Balinese villages respect both the gods and the negative forces or ‘demons’ of the island and try to ensure that they are kept in harmony to protect the land, their family and their life. In this mode, they have something similar to Bhoota Kola in Balinese, the most famous of the evil spirits on the island is Rangda. She is said to be the queen of the Leyaks, (mythological creatures that take the form of a flying head with its entrails spilling out behind it).

Importance of Pournima

Full moon or pournima is a very important day for them. All ceremonies happen on this day and it is considered very scared. Even royals of Bali visit the royal temple and pray.

Houses of Bali

Every house big or small has retained their traditions by following the architectural marvel inherited from their ancestors even to this day. All houses there look like a miniature temple. They have a separate God’s room, separate kitchen, separate bedroom and a separate living room all within one compound.
All in all, Balinese have maintained their spiritual connection by adhering to cosmic order (dharma) in their daily routine. The Balinese’s unwavering devotion to their spiritual roots is exhibited in their cultural processions and events, which are stunning displays of their unique culture. Bali’s religious celebrations on its holiest days attract visitors worldwide who come to witness the island’s splendid festivities and appreciate the Balinese people’s reverence for life’s every aspect.

You can watch the entire travelogue in the following link:

(Archana Ravikumar is a senior journalist who often writes on movies, lifestyle, cuisine, among others)

What’s similar between Bali and India? Senior journalist Archana Ravikumar explores!

https://newsfirstprime.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/07/Bali-Part-01-Seg-NFP.png

    The word Bali reminds you of its crystal blue beaches, scenic environment

    It has its roots in India's religions

    Bali has a lot of commonness with India

The word Bali reminds you of its crystal blue beaches, scenic environment and architectural temples. I visited Bali to get tanned in the crystal blue waters and soak myself in nature (traits of a Cancerian!), while this did happen something else really caught my attention…the Balinese way of life!

Little did I know that I was visiting the country which has my own roots and my own religion. Yes, Balinese follow Hinduism! As a testimony to it, a huge Garuda statue is installed which can be seen from many parts of Bali. Just like in India, they worship Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Ganesha is the most revered God there. Lord Ganesha adorned the entrance of every place we could see.

To every place we went in Bali, we could see small offerings kept to God on a neatly sewn palm leaf with five different varieties of flowers and incense sticks burning. These offerings, statues of Hindu gods, the culture they follow got me curious, curious to know that despite being so many thousands of miles away from our country how did Hinduism even stem here and many such questions.

After much research, I found out that Hinduism spread to Bali from our ancestors who were merchants. They introduced religious concepts, myths, and stories, as evident in the many celebrations honouring the dead and the gods of various cultures. Temples in Bali follow the same architectural principles as their Indian counterparts. The Balinese word for ‘temple’ (Pura) refers to a sacred complex that is often encircled by walls.

Later, until the invasion of Muslim rulers, the entire Indonesia was predominantly Hindu and Buddhist country. Now at present, although Indonesia is a predominantly-Muslim nation, with 86% of its inhabitants identifying as Muslim, Hindus throughout Indonesia make up 1.7% of the population. While this may not seem like a significant percentage, 87% of Balinese people identify themselves as Hindus, making them the third largest religious group in Indonesia.

After knowing this, more questions pondered, despite it being a Muslim country, how is that only Bali survived as a Hindu state? There are many theories around this, according to one of the theories, it is said that there was once a mighty Hindu Empire called Majapahit, and one of its Emperors, Kertabhumi (Brawijaya V), had a Muslim son from one of his concubines, who was a Chinese Muslim Princess from Thailand.

However, being a son of a concubine, he was never accepted as a legal heir. But, as time passed, prince Raden Patah grew up to be a strong-willed young man. He impressed his father with his strength and skills, which eventually led the king to acknowledge him as his son. Raden Patan was a disciple of Sunan Ampel (one of the 9 Evangelists that spread Islam in Java) and hence had a strong Muslim influence.

Although Raden had established his own kingdom, called The Sultanate of Demak, he decided to rebel against his father’s Majapahit empire. His forces managed to drive the Majapahit forces into the sea, forcing them to evacuate to Bali. At this point Raden Patah realized that his father never actually fought back as he loved his son too much. This was a moment of awakening for him as he realized he had committed a grave mistake of rebelling against his own father. He promised his father he would never touch Bali and would never convert the Hindus and Buddhists, people of his father’s faiths to Islam.

Now, let’s have a look at the Godly connection

The Gods predominantly worshipped there are Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Goddess Kali, Lakshmi, Saraswathi and Tridevi (our Goddess Annapurna) are also worshipped. Ramayana and Mahabharata are the most revered epics which can be seen being enacted in every play there. Statues of characters of Mahabharatha like Krishna, Ghatokacha, Arjuna can be seen all across the city.

How close is to our culture

In Bali, (as I earlier mentioned), wherever you go, you will see little baskets on the floor with incense sticks and little goodies such as sweets, fruits and sometimes even some money and chocolates too. These can be found in front of shops and homes, in the middle of cross roads and junctions, and on temple shrines outside and even inside offices, restaurants and basically wherever you go.

When I questioned about this with our guide Komang Astava, he said they were offerings made to God. No Hindu there starts their day without these offerings. Back in our country, in the name of modernisation or living a very mechanical life here, at times we even forget to light a lamp in our houses.

Architectural and ritualistic resemblance to Karnataka

In coastal Karnataka, a lot of importance is given to our ancestors and every house comprises a separate room for God which is outside the house they reside in but within the compound they stay. In the same way, typically in every Balinese house, there is a separate room for God where one pillar is dedicated to God, one to their ancestors and another pillar for offerings.

The people in Balinese villages respect both the gods and the negative forces or ‘demons’ of the island and try to ensure that they are kept in harmony to protect the land, their family and their life. In this mode, they have something similar to Bhoota Kola in Balinese, the most famous of the evil spirits on the island is Rangda. She is said to be the queen of the Leyaks, (mythological creatures that take the form of a flying head with its entrails spilling out behind it).

Importance of Pournima

Full moon or pournima is a very important day for them. All ceremonies happen on this day and it is considered very scared. Even royals of Bali visit the royal temple and pray.

Houses of Bali

Every house big or small has retained their traditions by following the architectural marvel inherited from their ancestors even to this day. All houses there look like a miniature temple. They have a separate God’s room, separate kitchen, separate bedroom and a separate living room all within one compound.
All in all, Balinese have maintained their spiritual connection by adhering to cosmic order (dharma) in their daily routine. The Balinese’s unwavering devotion to their spiritual roots is exhibited in their cultural processions and events, which are stunning displays of their unique culture. Bali’s religious celebrations on its holiest days attract visitors worldwide who come to witness the island’s splendid festivities and appreciate the Balinese people’s reverence for life’s every aspect.

You can watch the entire travelogue in the following link:

(Archana Ravikumar is a senior journalist who often writes on movies, lifestyle, cuisine, among others)

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