Most of the
3 million Balinese are Hindus but at its core is animism, bound with threads
of Buddhism. Their caste system is adapted from the Hindu traditions on
Java, which dates back to 1350, but is not nearly as strict as their Indian
counterparts. Being in a certain caste means that your roles in religious
rituals and the form of language used in every social situation have been
predetermined. However, this ancient practice is diminishing with time
as status is achievable through education, economic success and community
influence. Only in traditional villages is the caste system viewed as
important during religious practices. Bali is an island of religious tolerance
- Christianity, Buddhism and Islam coexist in harmony in respect of each
other's regulations and customs.
of Balinese are farmers but this is altering as tourism and associated
businesses, such as souvenir manufacturing and selling, have become more
important. The recent 1997 economic downturn affected Indonesia badly
and the country had to resort to rescue packages from the International
Monetary Fund totaling to about USD40 billion. This move did little to
alleviate the countless bankruptcies, widespread unemployment and the
plummeting of the Rupiah. The economic crisis had hit Indonesia hard and
prices of staples have risen fivefold although wages remain unchanged.
Bali is a paradise worth visiting. It is indescribably breathtaking, embellished
with natural beauty and charms - you will be bewitched.