Bali tradition and customes
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Marriage Tradition

Balinese traditional law which is called "adat" regulates various aspect of life, one is about the status of a man in the banjar or desa organization. As a member of the organization he is only given the full right and obligation when he has been married, following to the conduct of the adat. This law is mostly already written with small variation between banjar to banjar. The full responsibility of a family is at father's hand since Balinese is following the tradition of patrilineal. The purpose of marriage according to the tradition of Bali is to give freedom and limit the romance in the society which is underlying factor of the harmony of the world and heavenly structure. A man or woman ideally married once for life, nurturing children for maximum of 4 persons which is appear from the number of birth given name. Although it is exist that a man married many times and the king of ancient Bali also practiced polygamy, the society consider the polygamy is a deviant. Illegal bond is greatly taboo and is forbidden by adat. In case a man and woman found to have love affair without legal marriage ceremony, they will be fined with big ceremony to clean the bad spirit might caused by this lawless action. In case illegally couple have child this child is considered impure and must be given certain ceremony to return child's nature. So that is a hard burden for Balinese who tried in offending the adat rules of conduct for love affair.

Youth Girl Relation

Some banjars in Bali even practice night time of visit from a youth to a girl, like a curfew, that if a youth found to still hosted by a girl in her house without witness of her parents, or relative usually at that time they will be brought to the village hall and given the ceremony of marriage, and ask both parents to complete the wedding. Today this tradition has been discarded, yet practiced in more refiner ways. Marriage in Balinese does not introduce dowry like other ethnic groups in Indonesia, yet a feast, not big which is probably the influence of Christian Wedding reception is organized by certain villages, but only small number of it. This reception at some banjars sometimes need big costs as to cook big pig, chicken, fish or others into various cuisines to host the relatives of both sides, and some good friends in their own banjar organization or from outside. The feast is basically only eating together the best Bali food for those who have better economy, and just standard cooking for fare economy. The work for preparation of the feast is done by families or member of the banjar who are invited with no fee. Some feast, due to time strain or other consideration hiring a banqueting service and catering a modern way to organize a feast like an event for modern wedding reception. It is not rare also the wedding reception is organized at special place such as hotel or meeting hall, after the ritual steps are completed.

Inter Marriage of Castes

Until as late as 1940s the marriage between castes were still having objection, especially woman from higher castes would not be allowed to merry lower castes. If it was happened a punishment will be given to the couple who will be exiled from his village to certain place far away. The punishment is called " maselong " During the ancient kingdom of Bali around 18th century the couple was said to be sent to Selong in central Lombok for punishment, that was the origin of the word. Basically it was the feeling of higher castes that they would feel being humiliated when their daughter married lower castes, as the status would be going down since a woman will follow her husband status based on patriarchart tradition.

Tradisional Process

The procedure toward marriage between man and woman in Bali has many guide lines such as strongly forbidden and recommended. Forbidden are among families which is still related patriarchart until at least 4 generations, brothers merry sisters for example older brother of an A family merry older sister of a B family then younger brother of A family merry younger sister of B family, and also older brother of A family merry older sister of B family, and younger sister of A family merry younger brother of B family and in turn.

Myth of sanctions for these infringement are sickness, instability or disharmony, and other imbalance of life for the couple, families even to the wider environment such as banjar organization. A married man or woman who still have love affairs with others also have punishment after death at the here after. A family is ideally giving children in the past maximum 4. While since 1970s Balinese has a strong awareness of the responsibility of growing children and limit their family for maximum of 2 children. This is the difference between modern Balinese and Javanese, South Sulawesi, and Lombok, although in the root of descendant is the same. Today almost 99% Balinese family has 2 children while in Java, South Sulawesi and Lombok a family of 40 years old can be found to have 8 to 12 children especially among poorer areas, and some at more learnt people. In Lombok with the existence of seasonal mass marriage has doubled the number of population within 5 years. An indication of high growth of Population in Indonesia outside above mentioned areas seems exist in South Kalimantan, at Banjar, and Madura island. Javanese does not yet see this critical responsibility. Some of the story concerning marriage in Bali can be seen in the form of pictures like a comic on the ceiling of Kerta Gosha the remains of Klungkung kingdom in the city of Klungkung( now Semarapura ). This place is one stop for a sightseeing to east Bali or Besakih temple. Diving tour to Tulamben east Bali can also stop here as it is on the way back from the site.

If we see the steps of a wedding ceremony which is in Bali called "Nganten" is consist of some stages. Now days a Nganten will always be initiated by the couple from making acquaintance of each other until coming to the consensus of living together tied in the marriage with the witness of both parents and families. If all of them agreed and the step toward the marriage got approval, then the parent and families of the man will come and inform the parent of the woman that their son firmly request their daughter. This step is called Memadik, meaning informal request while introducing the parent and families of the man to parent and families of the woman. Let's say that from woman parties basically agreed. Second step is a formal request called " Ngidih " or " Ngunduh ", where the parents, families and the formal and informal leaders of the village of the man will come to escort the family of the man to the parents of the woman. Here the involvement of village formal leader will discuss about the demographic status in relation with the residency requirements, while the traditional leaders will discuss about the traditional obligation and right of a woman that married to outsiders or insiders resident in their village and the obligation of the parents of the man toward the village of the woman.

Ritual to Follow

In most cases during Ngidih, the temple ceremony called "Mapamit" is organized at once. Mapamit means such as farewell, but not a party, where the woman ask permission to their parents, families, traditional organizations where she was member, ancestors, and the spirits of what her families believe in, including the manifestation of the almighty gods that she and her people in the village always worship. This is followed by a religious ceremony at the village of the man such as an information to the whole entities of the village that the village receive a new member and be considered as the same status of the other members. Here again the making of offering for ritual become the most focus of man families. The ritual is called " Masakapan " or Maperebuan ". Third step is informing back to the parents and family of the woman that all procedures are fulfilled at the village of the man. This step also involves the making of offerings to be sacrificed to the family temples, village temples, and the family temple of the woman. This step is called " Ngaba Jaja" meaning bring souvenir. Traditionally the event of Nganten up here is finished. At some village still some additional event such as a sacrificial event called " Klaci " meaning that the parents of the woman must conduct a ceremony at the village temple and donating a pig, or rice to the member of the village to make the ceremony conducted. This ceremony is probably come from a tradition of ancient resident group that prevent their member from living out their group, so senses a fine. This type of ritual is very rare

In most cases all above steps are not at a one time finish. Between Mamadik, Ngidih, Masakapan and Ngaba Jaja can be quiet a distance of time, depending on the economic situation of the family of the man. Masakapan and Ngaba Jaja for example can be realized years after the Ngidih and Maperebuan. Some are even after having grand children, or after death at some places due to the complicated ritual requirements. Where is wedding could be attributed for Balinese marriage? It is really hard to make the comparison, yet very recently, not older then 1960s, the tradition of Christianity such as wedding reception does influence Balinese Nganten, especially inviting far distance friends, superiors, or staffs. Normally this reception is organized together during the Ngidih event which is directly followed by Masakapan. But some organized this reception during Ngidih, and some during Masakapan. During Masakapan without the influence of Christian tradition, the member of the village or relative will without invitation come to the event bringing rice, coconut, sugar, egg, or any product of the farming. With the influence of wedding reception, now the member of the village or far relatives if they know will come at the time of reception. Indeed delicious meals are prepared for. Very lately a new tradition again influenced the process of Masakapan that is the making of envelope box. Even some has enough courage to write an invitation card, and further even have bold courage to write on the invitation " sorry we do not receive souvenir " and this phrase has been in acclamation translated into money in envelope.

Garis Bali

Bali Age Village
Bali Traditional House
Balinese Language
Balinese Names
People of Bali
Castes Social Layers
Early Chinese in Bali
Indonesian Language
Kinship With Long Line
Language Dialect
Living Magic Belief
Marriage Tradition
Ngaben Cremation Ritual
Tantrayana Buddhist
Traditional Synbols Pratima
Tenganan Bali Age Village
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Among various tour packages and tour options in Bali there are some tours which can be said always on the publications and interest a large part of travellers to Bali. Kintamani mountain tour sits at the first number as the most popular sightseeing tour, second is Taman Ayun and Tanah Lot tour, third is Uluwatu temple tour.

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