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The Significance Of Balinese Culture Cultural Studies Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 1812 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In today’s society, sustainability has become an important aspect to life, which has gradually improved over the years and has brought people closer to one another. In addition, culture can most certainly be noticed throughout different parts of the world. It has become a significant element that archeologist have used to describe how a group of people interact, and how their ideas are learned and shared when passed down from one generation to the next. Just south of the equator and east of Java, lies a small Indonesian island recognized as Bali. Bali is comprised of active volcanoes, extravagant tropical rain forests and is surrounded by varieties of beaches, which are made up of white and black sand. This island has turned out to be a popular tourist attraction for many visitors, with an estimated population of around three million people. Additionally, “This development [tourism] is a particularly interesting aspect of contemporary Bali because it strongly reflects the effects of globalization” (Heider 20:2007). The Balinese people are a momentous example of how culture has been formed through art, food production, marriage, social organization, and religion.

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Art has been known to be a considerable part of our everyday lives, and can be portrayed in such diverse forms. It allows for an individual or culture to explore their innermost self and to fulfill their inclination to understand changes that may occur within oneself or throughout the universe. Art is a way to tell stories which can be interpreted in many ways, whether it is being demonstrated through paintings, sculptures, stone carvings, masks, dance, or music. Bali thus far has many distinct ways of representing their meaning of art. For instance, “At the heart of the artistic culture lies the concept of ngayah – a dedication towards work with the sense of religious duty or simply a service to God. It is this devotion, whether sweeping, dancing or carving that has formed the solid foundation to the Balinese sense that a life lived in relation to God is inherently artistic” (Semarr, 2003). The Balinese people’s art can typically be noticed through temples and palaces. The Bali people also have domestic shrines, which portrays carved figures of god like deities. Art throughout Bali has become popular amongst tourist; it has become an asset to the Island, which has given them the opportunity to continue to create cultural art, while helping their economy. The men typically make paintings, sculptures, and musical instrument, while the women put the dyes and weaves together. The art that they created is unique because the meaning is intertwined with their culture and religion. They also represent their art through dance and theater, which “use archaic languages but are so skillfully performed that even outsiders become enthralled” (Heider 20:2007). In my cultural belief, one of the most imperative ways to display our heritage is through art, music, and dance. For example, La Raspa is a blend of the popular Mexican hat dance, also known as the Jarabe Tapatio and La Raspa, which when combined becomes a dance of celebration presented with colorful and artistic technique.

Agriculture has long been an important part of society; it has been the ability to make the most out of what the land has to offer. The Balinese people have used food production strategies from the beginning and continue to use them in their current culture. Food production strategies include that of foraging, farming, pastoralism, or even a mix of the three, in order to gather food. An essential way that the Balinese gathered their food is through farming or the use of the rice irrigation system. For instance, “The first, Subak, concerns the production of rice and organizes the complex irrigation system. Everyone who owns a sawah, or paddy field, must join their local Subak, which then ensures that every member gets his fair distribution of irrigation water. Traditionally, the head of the Subak has his sawah at the very bottom of the hill, so that the water has to pass through every other sawah before reaching his own” (PT Island Concepts Indonesia Tbk, 2003). The subaks are also known as irrigation societies, which are groups of people who manage and distribute work in order for the water to continue to reach the canals. These canals then bring about water to different fields. In order for the rice system to function efficiently, it is also up to the Hindu priests to make sure the system is controlled. Furthermore, “over a period of a thousand years, the Balinese had worked out a system of growing rice that maintained an ecological balance in which humans, rice, water, hillsides, ducks, eels, and frogs were integrated into a smoothly functioning system” (Heider 25:2007). The community has to work with one another in order to meet such high supply and demand brought about from tourist. Agriculture has been a part of my culture for many generations. My family has invested a great deal of money in purchasing fields in California. The land they bought was then used to harvest strawberries, which requires a significant quantity of workers. These workers spend a lot of time out in the fields making sure everything is working properly, so that when the strawberries are ready they can be pulled. Without having food production strategies put in place, it would make it harder for individuals to obtain food thus possibly leading them to starvation.

Marriage can be illustrated and developed in several ways; it mostly depends on where one lives and what their religious beliefs are. In many cultures, marriage is an important event, which encompasses the commitment of a man and woman coming together as one. The most vital quality of a married couple is love, a lifelong coming together that incorporates both the spiritual and physical attributes of one another. Additionally, marriage allows the two people to unite their love in order to start a family and spend the rest of their lives with each other. Marriage also allows for both sides of the family to come together as one. When it comes to the Balinese getting married, they typically tie the knots at a young age. “The Balinese, however, are an example of a society that actually prefers marriage between children of brothers (patriparallel cousin marriage) even though both are of the same descent group” (Heider 250:2007). In proceeding with this type of marriage, it allows the bride to continue to stay within the same cultural group. In addition, there are two forms of marriages, mapadik, and ngorod. A mapadik marriage is when, “the family of the man visit the family of the woman and politely proposes” and ngorod when they “prefer marriage by elopement…as the most exciting option” (Nathan Hospitality Indonesia, 2011). Different from the Balinesse, I have been raised with strong Catholic beliefs and in order for me to get married inside of a Catholic Church, we both must be baptized and at least one of us be Catholic. We are also prohibited from marrying cousins or any other blood related relative.

Social organization is the way a group of people interact, the kinship system, how tasks are assigned, and the different types of rank within the group. In addition, kinship is the connection of family relationships, such as by blood or marriage. “These societies are characterized by social identification with a named house group, the perpetuation of groups through marriage, fostering, or adoption, and a high degree of ritual elaboration revolving around the house and its members” (Heider 288:2007). The Balinese society is made up of four types of castes. The ultimate class is Brahmana, which affiliates are made up of priests or scholars. The second caste is Ksatrya; they are members with nobility power also known as warriors. The third type of social group is Weisya, which the participants are mostly merchants. Finally, the lowest caste is Sudra; this includes farmers and laborers, who make up the Balinese society. It’s is because of such social organization, that the Balinese, “have obligation to pay homage to a certain temple, community involvement, social status, family relationship based on patrilineal principles, and have membership in village social organizations (Celestine, 2011). In today’s culture, social organizations provide us a stationed position, which allows people to know what to expect from one another.

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Religion can have an assortment of meanings; thus, a system of beliefs within a group of people that have faith in their own godlike being, or beings. It explains the way something is the way it is and get involved in some sort of ritual. Religion is very important to all Indonesians, but particularly to the Bali. Balinese religious beliefs consist of Hindu, Muslim, and Christian minority. Their religion varies according to the three principles: desa, kala, and patra. For instance, “the only thing that reflects the caste system is the language which has three tiers; 95% of all the Balinese are Hindu Dharma, and speak Low or Everyday Balinese with each other; Middle Balinese is used for talking to strangers, at formal occasions or to people of the higher Ksatriya caste; High Balinese is used when talking to the highest class, the Brahmana, or to a pedanda (priest)” (PT Island Concepts Indonesia, Tbk 2003). The houses contain their own shrine, which illustrates their strong beliefs with spiritual power. Rituals performed by the Bali people in a temple or festival would invite spirits or gods, such as Sanghyang Widhi to join them in the celebrations and provide them with messages. Religion plays a major part in the everyday lives of the Balinese, whether they are working, praying, dancing, or participating in any other type of activity. Unlike Hindu Dharma beliefs, Catholics believe in monotheism, which is the belief that Jesus Christ is our God. It is up to one, that the faith in the religion can be taken to a higher level, through different forms of participation.

In Conclusion, it is hard to envision a world where culture has not influenced a civilization. Culture plays an important part in any group or society. In addition, passed generations have allowed Bali people to get hold of what they have learned and share it with other, whether from the same culture or not. The Balinese culture has industrialized a method for their society to continue to grow. They have welcomed individuals from other parts of the world to share their experience. Thus, the Balinese people have shown how art, food production, marriage, social organization, and religion have been established on the small island of Bali.


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