In Bali religion, there is a strong belief in the afterlife which is displayed by all Balinese Hindus throughout their everyday lives. In a cremation ceremony it is a time of celebration for the family and not one of sadness, when the spirit is released to the Gods so that it may be returned and reincarnated in birth. As everything has a spirit to a Bali Hindu, there is no guarantee that a spirit will be returned in human form, one of the beliefs as to why these people live their lives with such strong religious obligations.
When a child is born, it is deemed to be a reincarnation of one of its ancestors whose spirit was released. With the complex Balinese calendar, the family can even determine who the new born ancestor is.
Although Hinduism in Bali originally came from India, it has been blended over the centuries with Buddhism and Javanese beliefs. Bali Hindus have 3 cosmic worlds to which they have strong ties, Heaven, Earth and Hell. This is evident throughout, even in their bodies, where they, the living, reside on earth with humility in the middle world; hell is the lower world for the demons and heaven is the upper world where the released spirits of their ancestors and the Gods reside. This is also reflected in the three temples of every village.
In any ceremony or temple, you will always see the colours of red, black and white which represents the three Gods. Red is for Brahma, the creator, black is for Vishnu, the preserver and White is for Shiva, the destroyer. These three gods represent the supreme God, Ida Sang Hyand Widhi Wasa.
It is the duty of a Balinese Hindu to maintain harmony with the Gods and this is displayed throughout their culture and religion by ceremonies and rituals in order to please the Gods, whether they be good or evil. At a temple ceremony the Gods and the ancestors are called down to be fed with offerings and entertained. This can be by dance or even by staging a cockfight as a blood offering together with gambling to please the evil spirits.
Throughout the day, everywhere you go, you will find small offerings to the Gods, whether it be at an office, on the dashboard of a car, or in a home or a restaurant. Shrines can be found everywhere, in fields, roadsides or even on a beach. When you walk along the street, it is like playing hop scotch trying to avoid the many offerings on the pavements, placed there to appease the evil spirits.
Every time I see offerings being made, there is a feeling that flows over me, a good karma, a sense of absolute peace and contentment. Oh how lucky these people are to live their lives in harmony and with such grace! It is just one reason why Bali is so special and called The Island of the Gods!
NOT JUST A BABYIt is not just the birth of a baby that is celebrated. For the Balinese people, the placenta is also considered a brother or sister to the newborn and is quickly removed and returned to the family compound. It is then cleaned by the father, blessed with holy water, wrapped in white cloth and then buried in the grounds under a rock. No one outside the family will know where it is buried to protect the placenta from evil which through black magic, (believed in by the Balinese), could then be inflicted on the living child.
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