Bali is famous for its beaches and vacation appeal. In fact, when Indonesia comes to mind, most people only envision Bali, where a fascinating lifestyle and beautiful scenery can be found on their doorstep. Rice paddies cascading down rolling hills, crystal clear water licking at white sands, an array of exotic fish, volcanoes piercing the clouds, and landscapes dotted with temple ruins, are all things you will get to experience while living on this tropical island.
Every year over 3.3 million tourists visit Bali. With a population of 4.2 million people, Bali is not only one of the largest islands in the Indonesian archipelago, but also the one which sees the most visitors — almost as many as actual inhabitants. The locals living in Bali are often considered to be some of the friendliest hosts in the world. Welcoming you with open arms, most Balinese want you to feel as comfortable on their island as they are. Therefore, most expats in Bali quickly adapt to their new lifestyle; after all, who wouldn’t want to call this beautiful spot home?
When Bali became Indonesia’s tourist hotspot in the 1970s, the local population was afraid that the large amounts of travelers arriving daily on its shores would spoil the island’s traditional lifestyle. The government took preventative measures to avoid this — by making culture the main point of attraction for foreigners coming to or living in Bali.
Society in Bali is largely influenced by its religious background, namely Balinese-Hinduism. Contrary to the rest of Indonesia, where most citizens are Muslim, the majority of people in Bali — approximately 90% — practice a form of Hinduism. Expats in Bali will also notice that it is a very community-oriented society. Contrary to the practice in many Western countries, young married couples in Bali continue to live at home.
Art is also a large part of life in Bali. Those living on the island will be familiar with its cultural heritage, which includes song and dance as well as drama and sculpture. The language of Bali does not recognize the word “artist”, but one could say that art is simply a part of everyday life. Many people in Bali are able to create some form of art. Most of these objects are a type of religious offering and can be seen throughout cities, temples, homes, and workplaces.
Due to the mix of Bali’s different cultural traditions, expats in Bali will experience quite a few vibrant and vivacious street festivals. The local population in Bali is an extremely close-knit society and values their culture highly, of which festivals are one of the main ingredients.
Listing all festivals that take place regularly as part of life in Bali would require more space than this article allows. Foreign residents should know that there are three types of calendars used in Bali. The saka calendar is a Hindu calendar that follows the cycles of the moon, and the wuku calendar is the Balinese festival calendar. Additionally, there is also the Gregorian calendar used to schedule daily life in Bali.
The Galungan Ceremony, Bali’s most important festival, is celebrated every 210 days and lasts a total of 10 days. The festival celebrates the victory of virtue (dharma) over evil (adharma). The highlight of this ceremony is the famous Barong dance, during which dancers move from one temple to the next supplying offerings to the gods. Once you are living in Bali, you will see that great importance is also attached to other festivities, especially wedding, birth, and burial ceremonies.
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