Bali is a multi-sensory experience – from the depth of the colors, the density of plantlife, the beauty of the terraced rice paddies, the zing of the spicy food, to the sounds of crickets, roosters, motorcycles, and flash thunderstorms. With a small variation in the temperatures throughout the year, the warm and steady climate allows for full-on connection between the elements and the body. That is what I loved about Bali.
And within that sensual experience I also learned of or observed cultural guidelines that I found to be worthy of note. Here are a few you may enjoy contemplating.
There is not a big threat of crime when visiting Bali. It is typically perfectly safe to walk home alone late at night. Most of the crimes against tourist typically come from other tourists, not the Balinese people.
When children are born in Bali, their feet don’t touch the earth until they are 6 months old. They are always held, and are considered to be still a part of the spiritual world, and therefore revered. A big ceremony is held when the child’s feet finally touch the earth. It signifies that the child is now a human, and no longer of the spirit world.
No one touches another person’s head, and you are warned not to pat children on the head. It just isn’t done. The head is considered the highest and more important part of the body and closest to god. Children are never hit or spanked. They simply don’t know that type of harsh treatment. This may be why the Balinese are such a gentle, peaceful, and joyful people.
No one ever raises their voice – especially in public – and getting angry in public is quite the taboo. Everyone seems quite peaceful, and quick to smile. They really do have great smiles! And luckily you see them a lot.
There is no homeless population in Bali. Everyone belongs to a family compound. If you have moved away and lose your job, you would not live on the street and be homeless. You simply come home, and there is always a bowl of rice and place to sleep. The typical family compound consists of several buildings, including a place for cooking, a place for sleeping, and a temple for worship and offerings, and an area where cremated family members are buried.
Offerings are a natural part of daily life. Offerings of a palm leaf tray holding flowers, food and incense are painstakingly and decoratively created, and placed at the entrances to home and businesses, at the temples, holy sites, any many other places. They are offered several times a day in many cases.
Imagine if we were to follow some or all of these customs. How would that affect our lives and lifestyles?