Bali, as we know, not only known for their beautiful nature, big waves, and many cool places, but also known for their religious culture. Most of original Balinese people, is an obedient Hindu. They honour the balance of life. They believe that everything must be maintain, and conserve. A prayer is one of their symbols to thank the God and all the elements that guard the earth. This is something they believe, and that we should respect.
Travelling to all corners of the world gets easier and easier. We live in a global village, but how well do we know and understand each other? Everyone can fly, everyone can go anywhere. You can go as many, and as far as you can. But globetrotters must understand their manners because each country has its rules, cultures and behaviour. Those things are inseparable with the tourism itself.
Balinese are also still carrying out the traditions and culture of the ancestors and it is quite going well along with modern elements that increasingly coming in due to the many “westerners” who visited Bali. Even though modern elements have spread widely in Bali, it does not mean that we can do whatever we want on this island. There are some ethics that still must be maintained. Also, if you manage to speak even the tiniest bit of Indonesian, the Balinese will open their heart to you very quickly. Balinese are extremely welcoming and appreciate greatly any effort made by visitors to respect some of the customs they deeply value. Follow these tips to maintain smooth interpersonal relationships in Bali, wherever you go in the island.
Though modern Balinese shake hands as Westerners do, the traditional salute is the “Panganjali” salute as in the Indian Namaste where the palms are joined together and placed vertically against the chest. In this position, Indonesians should say, “Om Swastiastu” or “May peace be with us” to each other. And don’t forget that Balinese connect by smiling at each other. They aren’t wary of each other, so they smile openly and often. Perhaps, as some say, they could be the ones who smile the most in this universe. So, if you are in a group of Balinese, smile at everyone around you and you will be appreciated and accepted.
- Dress modesty
In general, dress modestly, especially when visiting temples. Women and men should wear shirts that cover their shoulders and upper arms, and are expected to wear a sarong, or scarf, when entering a temple. Don’t have one handy? Luckily the Balinese have this covered, allowing you to rent sarongs and scarves outside of most temples for a small fee.
- Do not point your fingers to call someone
In Bali, it is also considered as impolite if a person calls another person by point the fingers or hands up or wave hands above the head. Courtesy is a highly crucial point in communication of Balinese people. So, even the etiquette of calling people is highly viewed by Balinese people.
- Never Touch Someone’s Head
The Balinese people believe that a person’s soul resides in the head, which makes it the holiest part of the body. As such, never touch anyone’s head or hair, and don’t even think about ruffling a little child’s hair.
- Don’t lose your temper
The Balinese believe that raising one’s voice is vulgar, being confrontational is offensive, and losing one’s temper is simply shameful. Bali locals never show anger or passion openly, and find the Western tendency towards loudness and open emotion somewhat offensive.
- Respect Religious ceremony
Religious ceremony or processions in Bali occur fairly regularly, particularly during high holy days like Galungan Day and and especially Nyepi Day (read about Nyepi Day to be more specific). These Balinese religious processions take precedence over your trip, no question. So, if you’re stuck behind a procession on a narrow road, do not honk your horn. Inside a Balinese temple, there are a few rules you should follow to maintain proper behaviour during any religious event. Avoid using flash photography in the temple. And under no circumstance should you walk in front of praying Balinese.
- Don’t enter any temple if you’re menstruating
This may be galling to any woman, but you have a whole island’s culture against you on this one. Any woman on her period, or anyone (regardless of gender) with a running sore or bleeding wound for that matter, is considered impure and not to be allowed into any Balinese temple.
- Never Use Your Left Hand to Hand Over Something to Another Person
Balinese people believe that the left hand is dirty. They see the left hand as impure because it is the hand Balinese people use for hygienic purposes. So always use the right hand when paying or when handing an object to someone.
- Never Point Your Feet at Someone
The Balinese people consider the feet as the dirtiest part of the body and it should never be used to point at someone or something. When sitting down, never cross your legs in the “4” position, where your feet rests on the thigh or knee.
Canang is one of the daily offerings made by Balinese Hinduism to thank Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa (Almighty God) in prayer and praise. Canang Sari is usually put on some places everywhere, at the stores, houses, hotels and other public places, or even on the road. You shall respect it by go pass the Canang Sari without step it over (try to avoid the overstep). Do not ever step on the Canang Sari. It is not because you are afraid of the disasters coming, yet to show your respect to the beliefs and cultures in Bali.
- Let’s get personal
It’s common for Balinese to ask what may seem like personal questions to visitors, however, it’s just their way of being friendly and open. Questions like “Where are you headed?” or “Are you married?” are commonplace and are meant to be inquisitive, not imposing.
- Leave Your Footwear at the Door When Entering a Home or Temple
To show respect to a Balinese home or temple, people must leave their footwear at the door. Since homes and temples are considered sacred places, shoes and all types of footwear are seen to contaminate the cleanliness of such places.
- Use Local Social Titles
When referring to someone who’s older than you, use their social titles before their given name to show respect for the elders. Use “Pak” for “Mr.,” “Mas” for “Mrs.,” and “Mbak” for “Ms.”
- Never Show Displeasure in Public
If you are disappointed with a person or a service rendered, show your dissatisfaction in private. You can ask the person to have a talk in closed spaces, but never where there are other people who can see or hear you. Balinese people are very easily embarrassed and saving face is very important to them. Honor the person’s dignity by telling the person your anger or displeasure where other people are not around.
- Respect Balinese Religion
The Balinese take their faith very seriously, so never argue in public or with a local about religion or politics.
Traveling can be a unique experience, since the differences in every culture always exist. Every place we visited, we look our surroundings, take lesson from them and we can imagine how their culture is. Just don’t forget to not measure others by your own yardstick, so you can take a closer look and learn to understand. How happy is it, if all people can relate to this, right? Traveling is one of the best way to learn about the world.
To see the world, to see behind walls, draw closer, and to feel, that is the purpose.
If there is any other thing beside the backpack or the suitcase including all your belongings, what do you think the most important thing to be carried?
It is your presence of mind, the simple yet valuable thing you have that is often forget. Just like the saying, when in Rome, do as Rome does.
When you travel to some place, act like the locals do!