Balinese Hinduism- The Religion in Bali

 In Bali, Festivals, General, religious, temple, Travel Journal

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Bali Tour Packages have some of the perfect itineraries planned for your Bali holiday plan.    

The majority of Indonesia is Muslim, but the Religion in Bali is strongly rooted in Balinese Hinduism, representing a distinct form of Hinduism incorporating local animism, ancestor worship, and reverence for Buddhism. 

About 87% of Balinese people identify themselves as Hindus and that is about 1.7% of the total Indonesian population. Hinduism in Bali is based on the belief of Agama Tirtha Dharma roughly meaning Holy water. Most religions of the world use water and fire as purifying elements. Water cleans, soothes and fertilises, while fire heats, destroys, and hence cleans too. An important belief of Balinese Hinduism is that every element in nature is influenced by spirit. Worshipping their ancestors and the lands that they have inherited, the Balinese possess a rich culture that merges traditions, wisdom, nature and aesthetics.

Balinese Hinduism: An Amalgamation of God, Religion and Ceremonies


Balinese Hinduism is based on the Indian trinity concept called Trimurti meaning Three Supremes or Gods consisting of:

  • Brahma
  • Wisnu or Vishnu
  • Siwa or Shiva

In the local language, some Gods are also called Sang Hyang Embang or Sang Hyang Parama Kawi. Bali also sees a lot of worship to nature Gods such as Dewi, the rice Goddess, and Saraswati, the water Goddess, as well as mountain and river Gods which are part of their ancient tradition. 

Temples in Bali serve as a medium for this connection between Gods and the spiritual realm with humans(bhuwa) and gives tourists an opportunity to witness the cultural side of Bali at its best.

One of the key rituals of Balinese Hinduism is the daily offerings to spirits and ancestors.

According to the Religion in Bali, they believe in dharma, which means one’s life path or one’s duty. If followed, life is in order and in harmony, whereas when it is not followed, it creates an imbalance. The opposite of dharma then is adharma, which brings disorientation and chaos.

The Balinese always strive to maintain a balance between these two aspects of their life. They offer daily offerings in the temples and shrines for the lower spirits and Gods alike, as they clearly understand that both forces are part of their existence and can appear in diverse experiences. 

By transcending the notion of good or bad, the Balinese people strive to find harmony and balance in every situation and ultimately emotional freedom, that is moksha meaning liberation from external circumstances and the endless cycle of birth and death, that is samsara( World).

Suggested Read: Pura Tirta Empul In Bali

The 5 Pillars of Bali Religion


The religion is also based on five pillars of faith, which are: 

  • the belief in a Supreme God (Brahma), 
  • the belief in one soul ( Atma), 
  • the belief in the law of cause and effect of actions (karma),
  •  the belief in birth and rebirth (samsara) and 
  • the belief in ultimate liberation from this cycle (moksha)

These five pillars operate through the working of the prime Gods Brahma, the creator, Vishnu, the sustainer and Shiva, the destroyer. 

Death and Rebirth in Hinduism


According to Balinese Hinduism, the soul is reborn after death, if it has not reached enlightenment before. When the soul reincarnates after death and comes back into a new body, it has to clear past karma in this life. However, once moksha, that is liberation, is attained the soul does not reincarnate and assimilate. 

In the Religion of Bali, rituals for the intermediate stages between death and rebirth are given high reverence to guide a soul through the cycles. Furthermore, the Balinese see the mountains as the abode of gods, the ancestors and souls that have not been liberated. On special occasions and festivals it is believed that the spirits descend and take part in offerings and festivities specifically held for them.   

One such mountain is Mount Agung which is referred to as Mother Mountain and is believed to be very sacred for the Balinese people

Religious Festivals

  • One of the most important Festivals in Bali is Galungan, which is a celebration of good over evil, or as mentioned above, dharma over adharma. It usually takes place on the Wednesday of the 11th week according to the Balinese calendar (which has 210 days), so there are often two Galungans each calendar year. According to tradition, it is believed that the deceased spirits return from heaven and appear ten days later on the festival of Kuningan.
  • Bali’s New Year is called Nyepi, which falls on a New Moon. It is an auspicious festival which also marks a day of silence. It takes place on the first day of the 10th month, which usually is around March. Everything comes to a standstill during Nyepi, which is for soul purification and reflection.
  • The Melasti ceremony is one of the most important religious rituals in Bali, which takes place a few days before the Nyepi ceremony. This ceremony is a purification ritual to cleanse the body, mind and soul before the start of the new year, according to the Saka calendar. The Melasti ceremony usually takes place near the coast or river, as the water is believed to have the power to purify and cleanse. The ceremony involves a procession of people dressed in traditional Balinese attire, carrying various offerings and sacred objects. 
  • Hari Raya Saraswati is a day devoted to ‘Saraswati’ the Goddess of Knowledge and Creativity.
  • Four days after Saraswati, the Balinese people celebrate Pagerwesi. They devote themselves to increasing their strength with prayers to the god called Sang Hyang Pramesti Guru

Suggested Read: Pura Taman Saraswati Temple

What is the main religion in Bali?

Balinese people practise Balinese Hinduism

Is Bali a Hindu city?

Yes. It is a Hindu Island although Indonesia is a Muslim country. 

Is Bali mostly vegetarian?

No, Bali has non-veg options too in all of their many restaurants, resorts and warungs.

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