Bali – A Summary
Bali is popularly known as the Island of the Gods. With a varied landscape that includes sandy beaches, rugged coastlines, hills and mountains, barren volcanic hillsides, as well as lush rice terraces, Bali provides a picturesque backdrop to the colorful, deeply spiritual and unique culture. Truly Bali can easily stake a claim to being called a paradise on earth.
Bali has an enormous range of accommodations as well as a number of archaeological, historical, and cultural attractions, along with world class diving and surfing opportunities. All these have helped make Bali one of the world’s most popular destinations and constantly wins a number of travel awards. Whether you travel as a backpacker, or go for a super luxurious trip and everything in between, Bali has something to offer to everyone.
Every aspect of the Bali life is filled with religion. Unlike most islands in Indonesia, Bali is a pocket that predominantly has Hindu religion and culture. The most visible signs of the religious Bali life are the tiny offerings that can be found in every airport check-in desk, souvenir stall, restaurant, work place, and house. These are tiny leaf trays that are made every day and contain a wide range of offerings like cookies, glutinous rice, salt, flowers and even at times coffee and cigarettes. No less than three times a day, before every meal, these offerings are set down with incense sticks and sprinkled with holy water. Accidently stepping on them is ok as they are placed with this very purpose. But it is considered bad luck to step on one on purpose.
Dance and Music
Dance and music of Bali is very famous and is a major tourist attraction. The wayang kulit shadow puppet theatre and the thegamelan orchestra are the predominant performances in Bali. The dances performed here are extremely dramatic as well as visual. The most famous of these are:
“Lion dance” (Barong) – This is a ritual dance that depicts the fight between good and evil. The performers wear lion-like masks that are fearsome to behold, and the dance is staged mostly for tourists. The storyline is relatively easy to follow, and Barong dance performances are not difficult to find in Bali.
Calonarang – A spectacular dance, the Calonarang is a tale of combating dark magic and exorcising evil spirits that are aligned with Rangda, the witch-queen. With a number of variations, not many calonarang plays are the same.
“Monkey dance” (Kecak) – This dance was invented in the 1930s. It involves up to 250 dancers in concentric circles chanting “kecak kecak” and a performer in the center who acts out a spiritual dance.
Legong Keraton – The Legong Keraton is one of the most famous of Balinese dances. This is a dance of divine nymphs hailing from 12th century Java, and is performed by young girls.
Balinese is the language most prevalent in Bali, and it is very different from Bahasa Indonesia. Bahasa Indonesia is the most common language in Indonesia, and practically everyone speaks the language in Bali as well. English and some other languages are also spoken in the tourist regions.