Saturday, 3 April 2010

The Balinese Culture

The Balinese culture is a unique combination of spirituality, religion, tradition and art. Religion is considered to be art and it seems that almost every Balinese is a devoted artist, spending 'free time' applying skills and images which have been passed down from generation to generation and grasped from a very young age. Expressed through beautiful and intricate paintings, extraordinary carvings, superb weaving, and even in rice decorations that cover the myriad shrines found in public areas, in paddy fields or in homes, the island is alive with art and religious homage.

Sekala and Niskala

Balinese culture is a complex event characterised by diversity and adaptability. A central dictum in Balinese thinking is the concept of Desa - Kala - Patra, (time, place and situation), a dynamic notion holding that traditional thinking will blend in harmony with the new. The Balinese distinguish between Sekala, the material, and Niskala the eternal. Reality is a coincidence of the material and the eternal realms. One does not exist without the other. The world, therefore, is the product of the interaction of Sekala and Niskala.

Temple Festivals

Temple festivals are commonplace. Each village will hold some sort of colourful ceremony for each one of its own temples a couple of times a year. Add to this the rituals and celebrations for each persons' passage from birth, puberty, marriage, childbirth to death and the after-world, and include the major island-wide celebrations like Galungan, Kuningan and Nyepi; the day of silence when the whole island closes down in fear of evil spirits flying in from the sea, and you can begin to understand how important religion in Bali is.

Hindu Dharma

Art, culture and day to day activities for most Balinese are strongly bonded to a unique form of Hinduism called Hindu Dharma, which is widely thought to be the closest example to the religion and social framework that existed in Java during the zenith of its power and is now found nowhere else. Classical dance dramas based on the old Hindu epics of the Ramayana and the Mahabarata which arrived from Java, are like everywhere else in Indonesia, mixed with pre-Hindu animist belief and peculiar local folklore. Not all Balinese adopted the new Hindu religion though. The Bali Aga who now live in isolated groups in the mountains at Trunyan and Tenganan, for example, preferred their ancient animist beliefs, which are still practiced and remain largely intact today.

Balinese belief systems

The very soul of Bali and Balinese belief systems is rooted in religion and is expressed in art forms and skills that have been passionately preserved over the centuries. During the mid sixteenth century Bali reached a cultural climax, which encouraged and developed elaborate arts and customs, which are the foundations of what is practiced today. In a sense they have changed very little since that time, but as has been the case throughout much of the Indonesian archipelago, adaptation of new environments is absolutely essential for survival. It was at this time that the Javanese Hindu and the Balinese calendars were combined and a complex schedule of rituals and ceremonies was defined. Nine great temples, the Pura Agung, were also built, linking the structure of the new calendar with that of the gods. The most sacred being the Mother Temple, Pura Besakih, built high on the slopes of Bali 's most sacred mountain, Gunung Agung.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

History of Festival in Bali

When tourism took off after 1965, the Balinese insisted that it followed cultural guidelines: if tourism was to be accepted, it was to be a cultural tourism, or "pariwisata budaya".

As the Balinese put it: "Tourism should be for Bali instead of Bali for tourism." In time, this idea become national policy, as part of a larger revping of regional cultures for national purposes. The policy owes much to the former Director General of Culture (1968-1978) and Governor of Bali (1978-1988), Ida Bagus Mantra, an Indian-educed Balinese. It led, on the one side, to the creation of enclave resorts such as Nusa Dua to limit the direct impact of tourism, and on the other, to a long haul cultural policy aimed at nurturing and preserving the traditional agrarian culture while adapting it to the demands of modernity, and in particular of "cultural tourism".

At the village level, local music groups, dances and other cultural events were inventoried, then supported by a series of contests at the district and regency level. The ensuing competition energized the cultural life of villages, whose "young blood" was already being drained to the city by the process of economic change and urbanization.

Schools of dance and art were created, in particular the Kokar conservatory and the STSI School of Dance and Music. Beside research, these schools replaced the traditional master/disciple relationship by modern methods of teaching; standardized the dance movements, produced new types of Balinese dances for tourism and modern village entertainment. Most important, it enabled former students to return to the villages as teachers, where they diffused, beside the creed of cultural resilience and renewal, new dances and standardized versions of old ones.

Many of the performances are held at the amphitheater which can hold up to 6,000 spectators, in a temple-like stage.

Each year, the Bali Arts Festival, beside the fed classical dances of the island, such as the legong, gambuh, kecak, barong, baris, mask dances and the like, is based on the theme around which new "dance choreography" is produced and old village dances and activities revived. Over the years, the whole range of classical Balinese stories - Ramayana, Mahabharata, Sutasoma, Panji - have thus been turned into "colossal" Sendratari Ballets.

The main challenge to the Arts Festival is obviously economic in nature. As village life is increasingly feeling the strains of monetary considerations, dancers, musicians and others cannot be expected to continue participating simply for the sake and the pleasure of it. As costs soar, new sources of financing have to be found. The obvious answer is the private sector and in particular the tourism industry. The greater task then is to convince the hotels, travel agencies and tourist guides to be more participatory in the Arts Festival rather than to their own sponsored events.

Considering the pride the Balinese have in their culture, and the adaptability and dynism they have always demonstrated, this little hurdle can be overcome. Trust the Balinese. They will eventually succeed to transform their tradition into a modern, Balinese culture of their

Monday, 22 March 2010

Eyeglass man

yoga lubak = is something zat to be there ^_^