Life in Bali

The Kecak dance is one of the most famous and popular dances in Bali, and it is a good representation of how life in Bali works. This dance consists of a group of men, in a circle, chanting together, and waving their hands around. Together they are effective, alone, it would not work. The Balinese society works in the same way. Everything hinges on the community, and the idea of everyone working for the good of that community. Individualism is frowned upon, and anyone trying to break away and do their own thing is shunned and considered arrogant.

Each person is a member of a family, and their neighborhood community. All decisions are made as a group, and are based on age old traditions. For hundreds of years, families would work side by side in the rice fields, cultivating crops to sustain the community. The famous irrigation system that runs through the rice fields was devised so that all the fields would receive an equal amount of water. No one is better than anyone else. This can be seen in the names given to the children, everyone is either number 1,(Wayan), 2(Made), 3 (Wayan), or 4 (Ketut). By all having the same names, personal identity is blurred, and they are simply known by their position in the family.

Life for the Balinese is ruled by the culture and religion. The women find it hard to hold down jobs, as their responsibilities in the village community are so many. They are the ones that have the task of making all the offerings for any ceremony, as well as making sure everyone is fed and watered. With the influx of tourism, and the lure of the mighty dollar, the Balinese are feeling pulled in two different directions. On the one hand, they feel an obligation to their community, on the other, they would like to earn more money to support their families. Its a confusing time for them, the youth in particular are moving away from traditions, at the concern of the elders.

Meanwhile, the tourists are drawn by the culture, and want to keep the Balinese in their traditional state, to marvel at, and take pictures. But what is best for the local people? Should they be held back, and entrenched in their traditions, or should they move forward with the times?

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