Despite the influx of tourism and modernization to the Balinese homeland island of Bali, the Balinese have managed to maintain their unique cultural identity. However, tourism has affected the Balinese lifestyle, particularly in the popular tourist areas.
Balinese are very close knit familially, socially, religiously and economically. Most live in villages where life is centered around the social system (Banjar), Hindu worship in the temples and agricultural cooperatives.
The Banjar is a community organization made up of member families and has social, religious and political functions. It governs the daily activities of the Balinese Hindu as well as enforces the traditional and customary law. The Banjar is the infrastructure of the village/community.
Their view of history is focused upon the relation of events to their particular ancestors. Each family possesses its own genealogy that fits into overall Balinese history.
Balinese religion and traditional political conceptions derive from Hinduism, but have been considerably altered over the centuries; the ritualistic and dramatic aspects of Hinduism are more prominent than the philosophical and mystical. Balinese Hinduism also contains elements of Buddhism, combined with ancestor and nature worship.
The people maintain a modified Hindu caste system which is more of a class system, allowing some social mobility. No "untouchable" caste exists.
Theoretically, the Balinese Hindu conceives of one god who manifests himself in the form of many spirits. The Balinese Hindus make offerings to these countless spirits as well as deified ancestors. In addition to the gods, there are many evil spirits who must be appeased through ritualistic offerings.
Each village claims its own gods, as does each family. These gods must be appeased through countless and unending offerings and ceremonies which serve to maintain the balance between good and evil. The Balinese believe an imbalance between good and evil results in bad things happening. This daily devotion often causes economic hardship.
Most Balinese believe the gods they serve are local gods and that once they are off the island of Bali, they are free from some of the obligations and offerings to the gods.
Profile: Artistry and dance
Bali's beautiful landscape is reflected in the artistry and skill of the people who live there.
The Balinese are internationally known for their great artistry in dance, carving, painting and silverware. Tortoiseshell, gold, silver and other metals are used to design fascinating objects. The women are noted for their traditional dancing and for their skills in weaving cloth of gold and silver threads, and embroidering silk and cotton clothing.