Balinese social organization

Bali has a population of about 4 million people. A third of them live in rural areas, although on this island the boundaries between small town and village are sometimes blurred. Kabupaten Badung is the most populous (over 700,000 people), while Klungkung has a population of about 200,000.

Most of today's Balinese are descendants of the Javanese Majapahit Empire, which collapsed under the pressure of Islam in the early 16th century. The natives of the island are the people called "Bali Aga", which means "inhabitants of the Balinese mountains", although they do not like this name and prefer to be called "Orang Bali Mula" ("original Balinese") or "Bali Turunan" ("Balinese who came down from heaven"). Meanwhile, the majority of Balinese still consider Bali Aga to be rude and uncultured people. This is expressed in particular in religion: while the main population of Bali is Hinduism, or rather its Hindu variety, Bali Aga is mostly animistic and worships spirits. Bali Aga also worships the gods they believe rule the world, led by the supreme deity Ratu Sakti Pancering, who they believe resides in the main temple of each of their villages.

These villages, such as Tenganan or Asak and Bungai, are also known for their population's strict adherence to the rules and norms of conduct (awig-awig) that were developed in each village many centuries ago and carefully preserved by local elders. The most famous village of Bali Aga is Trunyan village, located on a narrow strip of shoreline of Lake Batur, which is surrounded on three sides by mountains. This village is usually reached by boat from the opposite shore of Batur, but visiting the village itself can be very problematic. The fact is that the local Bali Aga are quite aggressive towards visitors and usually extort money for the right to enter and sometimes for the opportunity to leave Trunyan freely.

Meanwhile, this village is famous for the fact that the dead are not cremated or buried here, but simply put in special wicker cages under a sacred tree on the edge of the village. It is believed in Bali that the scent coming from this tree "kills" the stinking corpse smell, which is confirmed by the author of these lines. The tree in Trunyan is indeed unique and perhaps unparalleled, especially since it seems unlikely to be studied due to the specifics of the locals. It is a huge banyan-like scattering tree in shape, but its appearance is not exactly known.

Here in Trunyan is also the main temple of Bali Aga, where the 4-meter-high figure of Ratu Sakti Panchering, also known as Da Tonte, is hidden from prying eyes.

Hinduism in Bali was transformed into the so-called "Indo-Bali religion", which absorbed the basic tenets of classical Hinduism, many concepts of Buddhism, as well as ancient beliefs of the Balinese. Balinese life is imbued with the service of divine forces, and most aspects of their lives are associated with the influence of these forces. Not only every village, but, in fact, every courtyard has its own temple where the Balinese hold daily religious ceremonies.

The centre of the village, which is marked by a crossroads, is considered a sacred place where the directions of "kaja" are crossed: towards the mountains, i.e., good forces and "kelod" towards the sea, i.e., evil forces. (It should also be noted that for the people of southern Bali, the direction of the mountains will be to the north, while for the northern part it is the other way around).

Such a place is usually a sculpture of one of the celestials, and in the immediate vicinity there are obligatory for each Balinese village temple buildings, and their location depends on the sacred to Balinese coordinate system "kaja-klod". Thus, the main temple - "Pura Puse", which is considered the location of ancestral souls, is the closest to the mountains, "Pura Bale Agung", or "Pura Desa", which is a temple of everyday worship of the gods, is located in the heart of the village and finally, "Pura Dalem", which is associated with the gods of death and hell, is built closer to the sea.

In the central part of the Balinese villages there is also a "wantilan" - an arena for rooster fights, as well as an open area near the village's compulsory banyan tree, under the huge shady branches of which are well hidden in the hot season. By the way, "vantilan" is also considered a holy place, because the blood spilled during the cockfights is considered to be sacrificial.

In the space between the main temples of the village usually located residential buildings, making up the lowest administrative unit in Bali, which is called "desa". (On the city level it is "kelurahan"). Each desa may consist of several compact residential blocks called "banjars". Banjars are often formed on a professional basis and, due to the high population density in some areas of Bali, the natural boundaries between them become rivers. Often there are rice fields, forests and other natural objects on the outer borders of the banjar.

In fact, it is the banjars that are the main social unit in Bali, defining the functions of all members of traditional Bali society. A member of a banjar must be every married man who lives in its territory. In fact, each banjar is a kind of cooperative, whose members share a common property in the form of a meeting and assembly pavilion - the "bala banjar" or traditional gamelan orchestra - and assist each other in organizing religious ceremonies, family celebrations and rites, and in crisis situations.

Even when living in the city, Balinese usually participate in many events held in their home banjar, the latter also play a major role in urban settlements and not only in rural areas. Banjar is, in fact, a social fortress for Balinese, outside the walls of which it can take refuge during times of hardship. That is why the greatest punishment for a Balinese is exclusion from banjar, which means taking away any assistance, possible confiscation of property and expulsion from banjar. Moreover, after his death, such an exile is likely to be denied a burial site in the village cemetery. In Banjar, the Balinese did not feel alone. He knows that someone will always come to his aid if necessary. Even after a man dies, members of his banjar pray for the reincarnation of his soul and its rebirth in the same community.

Several banjars form a desu, or "pawongan", a semi-autonomous structure in which life is largely determined by internal orders and traditions that have developed over several centuries. As a result, each desu is elected as its head responsible for the internal life of the village and its traditions, Lelian Adat, or Bandesa Asat, who is also the head of its council, which includes all the married men of that desu. Such a "village head" can, of course, only be elected from among the full members of the community, called the "krama desa", for an unlimited period of time.

At the same time, each desa is part of the State power structure, being part of a higher administrative unit, the Kecamatan, or district. In this case, the life of the Desa is managed by an appointed official called "Perbecel" or "bandesa", who is already responsible to the regional authority.

The population of the Desa is usually between 200 and 1000 or more people. If each desa consists of several banjars, they are in turn divided into several "tempekan" or kampung villages. The latter are already divided into patrimonial residential complexes "pecurenan", which are built behind high fences.

In the village, life in Balinese is conditioned by various relationships with their neighbours and relatives. Often the Balinese are united on the basis of their main occupation and such associations are called "seca". Connections within an "seca" are strengthened through joint religious ceremonies. In addition to professional "seca" such as "seca gong", i.e. associations of gong producers, there are also youth seca, women's seca, etc.

In contrast to the open social and religious life of the Balinese, when they come together for numerous religious ceremonies, to discuss common issues under a beringin tree or to build irrigation facilities together, their family life is closed and runs behind the high fences surrounding their homes. A separate residential complex inhabited by members of the same family is called "dadia".

In each residential complex, in its eastern part, with an orientation to the mountains, there is a family temple. Also closer to the mountains there is a building called "methane bandung", in which the family of the owner, including his parents and sometimes grandparents live. In the eastern part of the complex there is also a pavilion called "bala dangin" or "bala gede", where family ceremonies, such as weddings, teeth cutting ceremony, etc. are held. Children can also sleep here, but they usually spend the night in the building located in the western part of the complex - "Bale Dauh". In that part of the complex, which is closer to the sea, there are buildings with a certain functional purpose: kitchen, barn, pigsty, as well as washing room.

The Balinese world view assumes the need for constant praise of life as a gift from God. It is through the above-mentioned cells of Balinese society that a constant thanksgiving to the divine beginning takes place, which in itself inspires all aspects of Balinese life: the worship of ancestors takes place in the framework of the union of relatives, thanksgiving for material well-being - in the framework of professional associations, and finally, rural communities - banjars, offer prayers for the preservation of their territories. Some Balinese who are involved in 12 different associations, for example, participate in various religious ceremonies almost daily during the year.

A significant phenomenon in Balinese reality is the division of society into castes called "wangsa", with the three higher castes - Brahmans, Kshatriys and Vaishya - being called "trivangsa" and the lower caste of Shudra being called "jaba". The three highest castes represent only about 3% of Bali's total population. As for the lower caste, the majority are probably descendants of those Balinese who inhabited Bali before his subordination to Majapahita in the 14th century.

Each caste has its own system of names, which cannot be used by other castes. Thus the aristocratic surnames of the higher castes contain such names as Ida Ayu for women and Ida Bagus for men in the Brahman caste, Chocord, Anak Agung and Maiden for the Xatria caste, and Gusti for the Vaisha caste, respectively. At shudras, children are given names that depend on the order of birth number in the family. Thus, the first child is called "Wayan", the second "Made", the third "Nyoman" and the fourth "Ketut", and then the fifth again "Wayan", etc.

Thus, in the conversation it can be very difficult to determine which Wayan or Made is in question until his or her family affiliation is clarified.

Often the Balinese name includes a particle indicating the sex: so "And Made" is the second or sixth child - a boy, and "Ni Ketut", for example, is the fourth or eighth child - a girl. However, in the higher castes there are also names that determine the ordinal number of births: the eldest child gets the names "Raha", "Putu" or "Kompiang", the second child gets the names "Raj", the third child gets the names "Aka". and the fourth is "Alit."

Depending on the caste, one variant of the Balinese language is used, which is divided into high style, refined style, ordinary language and rough spoken language. Without knowing the caste of the interlocutor, the speaker starts a conversation in an exquisite or ordinary language, and only in the process of communication the interlocutors bring their sayings in accordance with the caste belonging of both interlocutors.