6 Unique Practices to Observe in Bali

Sep 24, 2021
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Going to Bali is a great adventure in itself, even if all you do is eat some local food and hang out on the beach. However, the people of Bali have such interesting and unique customs and festivals, you should pick one or two and try to plan your trip around them. Bali has a very different calendar that rotates every 210 days so it may be hard to figure out when these practices are happening. Consult an events calendar for the year you plan to travel. Many travel agents post them online as a courtesy.

1. Ubud Food Festival

When traveling to as exotic a place as Bali, there are some essentials you should pack. Remember that it's hot there but there may be dress codes for certain places or ceremonies. Also remember that water might need purifying and in order to stay well, you should consult things like Thrive Reviews to find the most convenient form of the supplements you might need. Also, bring such basic remedies as heartburn medication if you plan to attend Ubud, the food festival. This is a three day event and you will be able to sample local produce and traditional dishes made by local chefs. It even includes master classes. This festival generally takes place in April.

2. Kite Festival

Kites in this festival are big with huge wing spans and make an impressive sight in the sky. They aren't just impressive to look at, though. The kites are designed to bring messages of thanks to the Hindu gods for a good harvest. The typical month for this celebration is July.

3. Teeth Cutting Ceremony

You may or may not be invited to observe this ceremony. However, it is still an interesting practice to know about. It is performed on a group of Balinese boys and girls when they reach puberty. The purpose is to protect against vices like anger and lust. In the ceremony, the preteens' front teeth are scraped by elders of the community. The official name for this ceremony is Mepandes.

4. Trunyan Funeral Rite

Those travelers with a taste for the macabre can head to Trunyan. In this village, the dead are not cremated or buried, but placed in bamboo containers near an ancient tree. The villagers have been doing this for centuries. You would think that the area's odor would be appalling, but there are enzymes in the soil around the tree which help decompose the bodies and neutralize the scent. After the bodies are decomposed, their skulls are piled up around the tree creating an above ground cemetery.

5. Pandan Leaves War 

The Pandan Leaves War, also known as Mekare Kare, is a festival that takes place in the village of Tenganan in the 5th month of the Bali calendar. Spectators are welcome as men fight each other in pairs wearing traditional Balinese clothing. They strike each other with thorny pandan leaves to honor Indra, the Hindu God of war. After the fighting, the battle participants are honored, prayed for and treated with traditional medicines like saffron to keep them from feeling pain.

6. Balinese Purification Ceremony

The purification ceremony, or Melasti, is a cleansing ceremony done by the Balinese to rid both their bodies and the world of evil spirits. The ceremony starts in a temple and then proceeds to the ocean. Participants wear predominantly white clothing and tourists can get close, and even participate, if they show respect for the occasion and dress appropriately. Not only do the participants dip themselves in the water to send their bad karma out to sea, but they also dip religious objects from the temple in the cleansing waters.

While in Bali, why not observe or even participate in one or more Balinese traditions? Do your research ahead of time so you will know where to be and when to be there and you can experience something truly unique.