For the past ten years, it has become one of the most popular destinations in international tourism. But why Bali attracts so many tourists from all over the world every year? Its charm derives from the right mix of nature, worldliness and mysticism. Nature is luxuriant and lush, the growing influx of tourists over the years has led to the development of more and more clubs and hotels, but the element that perhaps attracts the most is the sacredness inherent in this island. Here men live in close contact with the deities.
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The deep devotion of the inhabitants is breathed everywhere on the island: Bali is one of the few places in the world where men live with the deities. Religions are intertwined with popular beliefs giving life to a unique scenario in the world. In Bali temples and altars are thousands, as a rule every family clan must have one. Every day before meals they leave the offers to receive the protection and favors of this or that divinity. The offers consist of small baskets made from intertwining bamboo leaves, containing some food such as rice, fruit, biscuits, fragrant incense and fresh flowers, sometimes these are left along the sidewalks in front of the houses or on the steps of the shops…some baskets are so small that you risk trampling them. In fact, more generally the spirits, represented as “gods” and “demons”, are honored almost everywhere with offers of various kinds. It is so common to see large trees, boulders or elements of nature that are worshiped with small shrines or temples: the Balinese believe that they are inhabited by invisible spirits of which it is important to win favors. In the fields and barns the rice goddess is honored, to whom a small offer of rice is made before eating the main meal of the day.
Another fundamental point of Balinese culture is the dualistic nature of the universe, that is, the idea that there can not be anything without its opposite, because only their constant balance keeps them both alive. As well as day and night, joy and pain, the “highs” and “downs”, the Balinese symbolize this concept in poleng, the typical black and white checkered fabric, which in Bali is everywhere, on the guardian statues at the entrance to temples and houses, on trees or worn by people.
Barong and Rangda continually recur in representations, they are guardian spirits, one representing order and harmony, the other chaos, which are periodically awakened to duet in a fight to restore balance. Barong is usually represented as a dragon while Rangda is a long-fanged demon, witty eyes and braided intestines on the neck.
Even the typical clothing derives from the religious customs: it consists of a tunic, most often white or lightly colorful, tied at the waist with a belt of brightly colored fabric and a sarong wrapped around the legs, which can also be replaced by a narrow, long skirt; the white of the tunic is usually combined with the patterns and bright colors of the skirts in order to create a harmonious game of contrasts. The same clothing can be worn by both women and men, with the difference that men’s clothes are wider and accompanied by a headgear made up of white bands wrapped around the front.
The sacredness of the island is also strongly breathed in nature, in fact the mountains and lakes are places of strong spirituality: it is thought that the ancestors’ spirits live there, so the villages, temples and houses are oriented along their axis with the sea. The more the mountain is high or the lake is wider and greater is its sacredness; the more a temple rises near one of these elements, the greater the role it plays for the inhabitants of the island. The Gunung Agung with its 3014 m is the highest volcano of the island and is considered the most sacred: the arrangement of many villages of the island follows its orientation and although it is the least active, with its last eruption at the end of 2017 has held the world in suspense and has deeply shaken the hearts of the inhabitants of the island.
Bali is an island at the forefront of all the latest international trends, it is left to groped by the opportunity to get rich quickly thanks to tourism, but has also been able to keep intact its spirit strongly marked by the worship of deities. Its Zen soul makes it one of the top destinations chosen by yoga enthusiasts. Much more often tourists go so far to rediscover themselves and go back to their origins, forgetting the vices and the frenzy of their lives. A trip to Bali certainly does not leave you indifferent and will make you return to your daily life with a new awareness: Nature speaks to us, we are all one with her and we can not ignore her, we just have to know how to listen and learn to respect her.
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