Balinese - Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs. Balinese Hinduism mixes Hinduism with animistic traditions. Each temple congregation holds periodic rituals to placate and please the supernaturals and thereby protect the group's peace and prosperity. The Balinese make offerings to their ancestors, spirits connected to places, and other supernaturals, some with Indic names.

Religious Practitioners. The larger ceremonies are conducted by Brahman priests. Lower-caste priests care for temples and perform local ceremonies.

Ceremonies. Rituals are performed on several cycles, the most important being the six-month cycle. Every six months there are islandwide ceremonies, and each temple has an anniversary ritual every six months. There are also life-cycle rituals arranged by families, the most important being the cremation.

Arts. Rituals, whether family or village, may include music, dance, drama, and shadow-play performances. In ritual context artistic performance has a sacred association. Stone and wood carving in home or temple indicates high prestige for the owner or congregation. Royal and wealthy people have supported artistic performances and productions, in part as a display of their prestige. Tourist art includes paintings, carvings, and shortened secular performances.

Medicine. Government medical care is widely available and used. Indigenous medicine holds that illness or other misfortunes can be caused by angry spirits or ancestors, witchcraft, or imbalance in the bodily humors.

Death and Afterlife. A person's caste, wealth, and prestige are reflected in the size and elaborateness of his or her funeral. Living descendants must perform rituals that move the deceased souls through the afterlife to rebirth in a younger member of the family. Neglect of these rituals may cause the dead ancestor to make family members ill.

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