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Indonesian Culture

In: Other Topics

Submitted By Belladora1
Words 2412
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I. Introduction
I was born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia which located in West Java. Indonesia has more than 17,000 islands, and it’s the largest archipelago in the world. Each island has different cultures and languages. Regardless of all the diversity and an overwhelming size, the heart and soul of Indonesia can be represented by two islands, Java and Bali. This includes Indonesia's capital city of Jakarta. Balinese culture is one of the most outstanding aspects of Indonesia. Even though Bali and Jakarta are located in the same country, the cultures are significantly different from each other. The majority of Balinese cultures are based on their religion which is Hinduism. Therefore, Balinese have kept most of their traditional culture for centuries. On the other hand, Jakarta is a metropolis city and a lot more diverse and westernized compare to Bali. Some of the most outstanding features of Balinese culture include ceremonies of marriage, birth and death, holidays, social customs, unique time concepts, meaning of colors, ethical values, verbal and non-verbal communications. This paper will explore a more detailed overview of Balinese culture compare to the westernized culture of Jakarta.
II. Balinese Culture compared to Jakarta
Bali’s island is located just south of the equator and east of Java. Bali consists of active volcanoes, tropical rain forests and is surrounded by a variety of beautiful beaches. This island has turned out to be a popular tourist attraction for many visitors from around the world. It has an estimated population of two percent of the total Indonesian population (Skwirk). Balinese culture is much different compared to Jakarta. Jakarta is the capital city of Indonesia and has a lot more diverse cultures, religions, holiday celebrations, clothing, etc. Each holiday and religious celebration is based on the family’s ethnic background. On the other hand, Balinese has kept all these traditions for centuries. Due to their religion, the people of Bali participate in many different ceremonies throughout their lifetimes. These different ceremonies represent a person's journey through life with color and celebration (Skwirk). Meaning of Colors
When tourists visit Bali, he or she may realize that shrines and statues are wrapped in black and white fabrics. It is also common for the Balinese people to wrap bridges, pillars, stones and other structures with wrappings during festive periods. At the same time, the Balinese people dress in a variety of different colors. This usually coincides with a ceremony on the island. In addition, most items like weaved products are made with different colors. All of these colors have their own meaning and symbolism (Balicarholiday). For example, a color can be used to symbolize God or man. At the same time, a color can be used to show directions. White represents east, yellow represents west, blue or black represent north, whereas red represents south. Apart from the four cardinal points, Balinese also use different colors for other directions. Grey color is used to represent northeast, pink represents southeast, green represents southwest, whereas multiple colors are used to symbolize the center (Balicarholiday). Besides giving directions, these colors are also used to symbolize various beliefs and aspects of daily life. A combination of white and black is used to symbolize good and evil. White color is also used alone to symbolize cleanliness and purity, whereas black is used to represent evil and all other things that are opposite of purity and cleanliness. Good observation can show that in some of the Balinese products, there are usually three colors. The grey color is put in the middle of the white color and the black color. This grey color represents man. The Balinese people believe that man lives in a world of good and evil and hence the grey color is put in the middle. It also means that a person should not expect a man to be a hundred percent perfect in his work since he can neither be a hundred percent good nor a hundred percent bad (Balicarholiday).
Concept of time
Another fascinating aspect of the Balinese culture is their concept of time. To begin with, Balinese people have a different calendar from the rest of the world. While our year is usually 365 days, the Balinese calendar has 210 days per year. Besides having a different calendar, the Balinese people have a different perception about time that is very different from the perception that the rest of the world has on time. It is common for people in the western world to value time and strive to meet time lines for various events. In the western culture, the ability to keep time is very essential, and it can make a great difference (Artlivefree). However, this is not the case for the Balinese people. To them, the most important thing is that the sun rises and it sets. They believe that time is flexible and accommodating. They do not see time as something that should dictate how they live. This could explain the reason why it is rare to see people wearing watches or clocks being hung in most buildings in Bali. People seem to be very relaxed, and no one is ever in a hurry. The society is very understanding and nobody questions another for being late. Due to this, performances and events usually begin late, and there is never a guarantee on when they will end (Artlivefree). In contrast to the Balinese concept of time, the people in Jakarta seem to be more stressed and in a hurry. Jakarta is densely populated and to reach one destination by car may take several hours due to traffic. Therefore, most people have to leave at least two hours before they can arrive at their final destination on time.
Social Customs The Balinese and people in Jakarta have similar unique social customs. The society values children and family very much, and its love for children is evident from the number of children that a household has. These children are usually placed under the care of elder people in the society. In addition, Balinese people value social interactions with their neighbors very much. One has no option but to know his neighbors in a village where he lives (Bali Paradise).
Clothing
The people in Jakarta mostly wear regular and more modern clothing on a daily basis. However, Balinese people wear a lot more conservative clothes compared to Jakarta. When I visited Bali once a few years ago, I discovered that when visiting a temple, one must dress as modestly as possible. Balinese also wear clothes with bright colors. One cannot help but admire the beauty of the dress code of the Balinese people; especially how the women dress when there are festive occasions. Different occasions also have different dress codes depending on where the occasion is held and what the occasion is. For example, the dress code during a festival time is different from the dress code that is worn during rituals such as cremation rituals.
Food and Occupation
The staple food for the Balinese people and the rest of the Indonesia is rice. Balinese people are mainly farmers. However, their farming is regulated by a community structure referred to as Subak. Every person who intends to plant rice must join the Subak in his village. The Subak will then decide who plants in which season and when each farmer gets irrigation water. The Subak is also in charge of determining how much irrigation water each farmer gets (Bali Star Island).
Religion
Unlike the majority of the country, which mainly follows Muslim religion, Bali Island mainly practices Balinese-Hinduism. The Balinese people have over sixty religious holidays in any given year to celebrate this religion. They believe that they are normally in a spiritual journey to paradise. Due to this, they believe in reincarnation (Skwirk). Every time one of their citizens dies, they usually believe that he has taken a closer step to Nirvana (Paradise).
Holidays and celebration of Birth, Marriage, and Death
In Jakarta, we celebrated most religious holidays. The four major religions celebrated are Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism. We would always have holidays marked on the calendar to give respect for those who are celebrating. In addition, each birth, marriage and death ceremony is celebrated based on each family tradition and culture. On the other hand, Balinese holiday celebrations are mostly based on Hinduism. All the Balinese holidays are either private or public. In case any visitor wants to participate in these ceremonies, he or she should dress in proper attire. Tourists should dress in a sash and sarong, and their arms should be well covered (Murnis). All these ceremonies are usually classified into five categories. The first category is called the Panca yadnya, which are rituals for the gods, higher spirits, consecration of the priestesses and priests, consecration for humans as well as ceremonies to remove evil spirits from the society. In addition, Balinese also have private ceremonies, which mainly involve families. In all these rituals, all participants must participate in purification rituals in order to banish any evil spirits before harnessing the divine powers (Murnis). Some of these private ceremonies include ceremonies performed during pregnancy, ceremonies performed immediately after birth as well as the ceremonies that occur after 12 days, 42 days, 105 days and 210 days after the birth of a child. After 12 days, the child is given a name in a small ritual. The days that follow these 12 days are considered as the most vulnerable days where the child can be easily bewitched. Due to this, the mother and the baby are considered impure and are hid from the rest of the society. After 42 days, a purification ritual is performed to cleanse both the mother and the child. After 105 days, the naming ceremony takes place. During this day, the baby ceases to be regarded as a divine creature and it touches the ground for the first time. The first 210 days mark the baby’s first birthday and the baby receives its first haircut, which symbolizes release of energies. All these birth ceremonies involve various rituals (Murnis). Marriage ceremonies take place in the man’s family residence. Marriages usually involve several rituals. For example, the girl is supposed to participate in several rituals in order to bid her ancestors farewell before joining her husband’s ancestors. Another ritual is also performed at the man’s family temple in order to welcome the girl to her new family and lay a foundation for their new family (Murnis). The last ceremonies in a person’s life are death and cremation ceremonies which is also called “Ngaben”. Once a person dies, his body has to be cleansed and prepared for the afterlife. This is done by holding various cleansing rituals. The body must also be cremated in order to protect the society from being tormented by evil spirits. Before the body is cremated, various rituals have to be carried out in order to confuse the deceased spirit and make it unable to return to his home (Murnis).
Verbal and Non-verbal Communication For Balinese, both verbal communication and non-verbal communication are very important. When verbal communication is used, it must match with the non-verbal communication. Non-verbal communication for Balinese includes glance, touch, facial expression, gestures and dress. Non-verbal forms of communication are more noticeable among the Balinese women than among the Balinese men (Muliartha).
Ethical Values
In Jakarta and the rest of the country, ethical value is based on each individual religion. Balinese people have strong ethical values, which are based on their Hindu religion (Muliartha). They also have ethical values on work, where women participate in all types of work, including those that are perceived to be men’s work in other parts of the world. Having a proper work ethic is highly valued among the Balinese people (Dewangga). Much like in other Indonesian cultures, behaviors like extramarital sex or adulterous relationships are considered unethical. Those individuals who violate ethical values of the family are usually shunned by the family. The Balinese people also believe in the concept of Karma, which is based in Hindu teachings. The law of Karma is said to determine the destiny of one’s life and is a central principle of Hinduism. Hindus in Bali are always striving to achieve mostly a positive Karma and one of their major purposes in life is to be re-incarnated in a more positive role in a future life on their way to reaching Nirvana. Therefore, it is logical to think that this belief in Karma will generally result in more ethical behaviors toward others (Skwirk).
III. Conclusion
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. The Balinese culture is one of the unique cultures of the world. It continues to attract many tourists from different parts of the world, who travel to Bali Island, to witness this wonderful culture. They have unique ceremonies as well as traditions. They also have a different concept of time, where they believe that time is very flexible and accommodating. 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 formed a strong foundation for a society on the small island of Bali.

Works Cited
Artlivefree. Rubber Time. October 3 2011, Web. 03 Aug. 2013 <http://theartoflivingfree.wordpress.com/page/5/>
Balicarholiday. Saput Poleng the symbol of good and bad – Bali Island. nd, Web. 03 Aug. 2013 <http://www.balicarholiday.com/whiteandblackcolor.php>
Bali Paradise. Bali Culture and Customs. 2012, Web. 03 Aug. 2013 <http://about.bali- paradise.com/culturecustoms.html>
Dewangga, Kusuma. The Balinese Work Ethic. December 12 2012, Web. 03 Aug. 2013 < http://www.tnol.asia/arts-culture/18396-the-balinese-work-ethic.html>
Muliartha. Bali as World Hindu Centre, Between Challenge and Expectation. February 21 2013, Web. 03 Aug. 2013 <http://www.worldhinduparisad.org/eng/?p=1084>
Murnis. Balinese Ceremonies. nd, Web. 03 Aug. 2013 <http://www.murnis.com/culture/articlebalineseceremonies.htm>
Skwirk. What Makes Bali Unique? 2013, Web. 03 Aug. 2013 <http://www.skwirk.com.au/p-c_s-1_u-46_t- 33_c-88/what- makes-bali-unique-/nsw/hsie/study-of-a-cultural-group-bali/people-of- bali>…...

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