Gender Wayang – Bali’s Most Intimate Gamelan Ensemble

If you’ve ever been to a tooth filing ceremony in Bali, you would have heard the music of gamelan gender wayang. Instruments played by either by two or four musicians in pairs, a gender wayang ensemble is Bali’s most intimate gamelan ensemble. This is not just because the group is relatively small compared to the commonly seen large […]

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“Where you go – wash your eyes ya?”

  Some of the most “charming” Indonesian expressions are ones that use the word cuci which means ‘to wash’. Perhaps this is because Indonesians always ask each other (even people they’ve just met) if one has washed yet or not (“Sudah mandi?”). Perhaps not. Nonetheless, the word is part of some pretty funky expressions. For example, cuci mata that literally means ‘wash eyes’ means […]

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Is listening part of Balinese culture? By Vaughan Hatch

Go to a meeting or take a Balinese to a music concert and you’ll quickly learn that Balinese prefer talking to listening. Over the past 20 years living in Bali, I have been to numerous local meetings and they’re pretty noisy spectacles indeed. Very few people  sit in silence listening to the speaker but prefer to chat with […]

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What does Ngiring mean?

For those of you who have gone beyond Indonesian and are attempting to learn Balinese, you would have certainly heard this word a lot. Ngiring is one of the most interesting Balinese words because it is not only versatile but it explains so much about Balinese culture in the way it is used. For those of […]

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The Indonesian Love Affair with Uniforms

  Uniforms: schools, universities, playgroups, kindergartens, gamelan groups, ngaben, pelebon, government employees, nurses, ceremonies. Old fashioned Compared with the West, Indonesia is still a very communal society. Sometime after World War II, perhaps initially in response to the communist paranoia in the cold war and then generally to military uniforms during the Vietnam War, Western […]

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How do Balinese Construct Arguments?

There are many examples of how the life and thoughts of Balinese people is the complete opposite of other cultures. As western society, and now many other societies, industrialized and put more emphasis on scientific thought and consequent secularism, more and more people started to think in a scientific and analytical way. Fact-based science resulted […]

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What does Tirta Yatra mean?

Derived from Sanskrit, tirta yatra literally means “sacred holy water pilgrimage”: a journey (normally of a substantial distance) to seek and or collect holy water. These days in Bali, the original meaning is somewhat lost and tirta yatra means simply a holy or spiritual pilgrimage. Tirta yatra, unlike spiritual journeys by holy men, can be carried out by anyone […]

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