Learn the Balinese greetings to greet Like Locals Do

If you have been spending some time here on Bali, you may have gotten used to the culture and the people.

You may even have mastered some basic Balinese culture like their main holidays and greetings, as well as you know not to step on the offerings they put by their doorsteps. So, what defines Bahasa Bali?

According.to our know-all friend at Wikipedia, Balinese or simply Bali is a Malayo-Polynesian language spoken by 3.3 million people (as of 2000) on the Indonesian island of Bali as well as Northern Nusa Penida, Western Lombok and Eastern Java. Most Balinese speakers also know Indonesian. Balinese itself is not mutually intelligible with Indonesian but may be understood by Javanese speakers after some exposure.

Sadly, In 2011, the Bali Cultural Agency estimated that the number of people still using the Balinese language in their daily lives on the Bali Island does not exceed 1 million, as in urban areas their parents only introduce the Indonesian language or even English, while daily conversations in the institutions and the mass media have disappeared.

The written form of the Balinese language is increasingly unfamiliar and most Balinese people use the Balinese language only as a means of oral communication, often mixing it with Indonesian in their daily speech. But in the transmigration areas outside Bali Island, the Balinese language is extensively used and believed to play an important role in the survival of the language.

The higher registers of the language borrow extensively from Javanese: an old form of classical Javanese, Kawi, is used in Bali as a religious and ceremonial language. The word order is similar to that of Indonesian, and verb and noun inflectional morphology is similarly minimal. However, derivational morphology is extensive, and suffixes are applied to indicate definite or indefinite articles, and optionally to indicate possession.

The Balinese script (Aksara Bali, ᬅᬓ᭄ᬱᬭᬩᬮᬶ), which is arranged as Hanacaraka (ᬳᬦᬘᬭᬓ), is an abugida, ultimately derived from the Brāhmī script of India. The earliest known inscriptions date from the 11th century AD. Few people today are familiar with the Balinese script. The Balinese script is almost the same as Javanese script. Schools in Bali today teach a Latin alphabet known as Tulisan Bali.

Don’t be afraid, though, even if you think it’s too hard to master the language, you can always learn just the basics: the greetings and basic words that you will use in everyday conversations. There are two basic greetings that you will hear everywhere and everytime you meet with the locals here: Om Swastiastu, and Om, Shanti, shanti shanti, Om. These two gereetings are not just regular greetings since they also function as prayers.

Etymology- wise, “Om Swastyastu” means good luck.  Om Swastyastu is a key-greeting that is used by Hindus when opening an event, be it in the form of meetings, greetings, and so on.  In addition, om swastyastu is also used by Hindus to greet each other when meeting family, parents, relatives, friends and other people.

Based on the explanation above, it can be concluded that Om Swastyastu means “good luck in the protection of Ida Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa.” From the meaning of the word, Om Swastyastu comes from Sanskrit, namely the words Om and Su, Asti and Astu.  Om means Sanghyang Widhi Wasa (Brahman / God), Su means good, Asti means being and Astu means hopefully.  In this way Om Swastyastu can be interpreted as wishing him safety from Ida Sanghyang Widhi Wasa, the Almighty God.

In the Samhita Mantra Book, Hindu Prayer Association as quoted from the mutiarahindu.com article, Om Swastyastu means Om Sanghyang Widhi Wasa, May We Always Be Safe (Dana and Suratnaya, 2013: 36). Om is a sacred script for Sanghyang Widhi Wasa.  Whereas Swastyastu is the basis of the power and welfare of the universe from the word Swastyka.  Thus when we say the word swastyastu it means that we have asked for protection from God Almighty who rules the entire universe.

In the Bhagavadgita, the word Om is a symbol of God Almighty.  Then in the Swastyastu Balinese Dictionary has the meaning of survivors from the word suasti.  So when it becomes swastyastu, it means its meaning, hopefully safe.  Swastyastu in the Kawi-Balinese Dictionary is explained as coming from the word Swasti which means raharja, rahayu, happy and rahajeng.  Astu also means prostration, sinah, proper, dumadak.  From the word Astu turned into Astungkara which means praise, alem, worship.  thus Swastyastu can be interpreted as good luck or happy

Swastyastu in the dictionary of the Bal Languagei, Ancient Java, and Bali Kawi has the same meaning that is good luck, prosperity and happiness.  whereas Swastyastu in the Sanskrit dictionary means goodbye or separation.  The word astu as a wholesaler only reinforces the word svasti which means hopefully, goodbye or goodbye. From the four dictionaries above, if the red line is drawn, the meaning of swastyastu has the same meaning which is hopefully prosperity, congratulations on the protection of Sanghyang Widhi Wasa.

Whereas Om santih santih santih Om means that you are safe and may peace in the heart of peace on a peaceful earth always.  Om is pranawa Sanghyang Widhi Wasa, while Santih means peace.  Om santih, santih, santih, Om are used to close a description or writing. Indonesian Hindus use Om Swastyastu to open their prayers or meetings.  Also used to greet relatives, parents, friends or when meeting fellow Hindus.  While Om santih, santih, santih, Om is used to close a prayer or activity in an event such as “let us end this event with the Parama Santih:  Om santih , santih, santih Om“.

So, now that you know the meaning of the words, are you ready to start saying Om Swastyastu and Om santih santih santih Om in a daily basis? We hope you do. Om, santih, santih, santih, om.

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