The majority of the Balinese had converted to Hinduism by the 7th century CE after being visited by Chinese traders and Indian literati. This was after Mahendradatta, the mother of Airlangga (who ruled Java from 1019 to c. 1049), married Udayana, the Balinese king. This prestigious event led to many of the Javanese Hindus immigrating to Bali and thus spreading the religion.
The island of Bali regained its independence after its capturer, Kertanagara, the last king of Tumapel (Singhasari) in Java, died in 1292. However, Bali then fell under the rule of the Majapahit empire of eastern Java in 1343, until this empire was overthrown in 1478 by Muslims.
Further down the historical timeline the Dutch visited Bali for the first time in 1597 when the island was divided among a number of warring Muslim states. The Dutch managed to annex the northern Balinese states of Buleleng and Jembrana in 1882. Following the killing of the Prince in an 1894 invasion, in 1906 the Dutch attacked Denpasar, massacred about 3,600 Balinese, and captured the whole island.
The Japanese then occupied Bali during World War II. In 1946 a battle was fought between Dutch troops and Indonesian revolutionary forces at Marga in western Bali. The island then finally became part of the Republic of Indonesia in 1950.
Agama Hindu Dharma is the form of Hinduism the Balinese people follow. An important belief of this Balinese Hinduism is that spirit influences the elements of mother nature.
This deeply religious culture is highlighted by the over 20,000 Hindu temples in Bali (known as “pura”). These temples are aligned to the 250-day Bali calendar year, each with a specific function and rituality. The physical and spiritual realm of Balinese Hinduism determined the arrangement of these temples – from Pura Tirta “water temples” for cleansing rituals to Pura Segara “sea temples” that are located by the ocean to appease the sea Gods and deities. Communities congregate and enjoy festivals at the separate village and family temples.
The philosophy of Tri Hita Karana “Three Causes of Goodness”, is the origin of the Balinese belief system. Maintaining a harmonious relationship with God, people and nature, is at the forefront of this philosophy. If you are aware of this belief you can see it easily identifiable in the Balinese way of life, architecture, agriculture and tradition as you move around the island. It is believed that the wisdom of living true to these elements brings about prosperity and harmony.
Ceremonies follow every important event in human life, for example, there are Balinese ceremonies for birth, puberty, maturity, marriage or death, then there are ceremonies on important holidays in the 250-day Balinese calendar such as Nyepi (day of silence), Galungan and Kuningan or ceremonies connected with natural phenomena (like a full moon). With these ceremonies and daily rituals, people aim to try and connect with the gods, ancestors, families and community.
In addition, it has incredible other aspects of its culture to explore; with it being renowned for its highly developed arts, including traditional and modern dance, sculpture, painting, leather, metalworking, and music.
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