Bali the dream land of ancient culture: Tourism Paradise

Dr VK Bahuguna

Bali a Province of Indonesia is known for its beautiful landscape, enchanting sea beachesand art and sculptures has over the years became a most favourable tourism destination where the tourist throng from all over the world. For Indian tourist it has special attraction due to similarity of culture and religion as more than 83 % of the Balinese population profess Hinduism. A large number of Indians visit it every year to reflect on ancient Indian heritage. It is a wonderful place to witness effortless convergence of religion, culture, art and life style. It is a small island in the Far East area of Indonesia with an area of only 5780 Sq Km and with a population of little over 4 million and hence is a densely populated place. The capital city of the Province is Denpasar with a population of over 4 lakh. Kuta and Ubud are other cities which are centre of its cultural grandeur and where most of the tourist destinations are located and the tourists stay. This writer had visited Bali during October 2019 to study its cultural ethos. The climate is tropical and average temperature is around 30 degree Celsius. It had rich bio-diversity in the forests but the famous Bali Tiger have become extinct long back. Like in India the heavy flow of tourists of more than 5 million every year causes pollution and it had forced the local administration there to declare 'Garbage Emergency' during 2017. The literacy rate is high and only less than 3 % people are below poverty line. The tourism had the greatest contribution in its GDP and major contributors are Australia, India, France, China, Germany and the UK.  

According to a DNA study in 2005 as reported in Wikipedia around 12% of Balinese are likely of Indian origin, while 84% are of likely Austronesian origin, and 2% of likely Melanesian origin. The Balinese Hinduism is today free from the caste system though previously they had some caste system which has gradually vanished and now a cohesive casteless society is the hall mark of the Bali Hindu religion. It is a mixture of ancient traditions and modern outlook fashioned by the Indonesian constitution which allows only monotheistic religion to be practiced. Bali Hindus adopted this and name their religionas 'Agama Hindu Dharma' and only worship one God, called Sang Hyang Widi or Sang Hyang Widhi and have also adopted the previously existing animistic traditions.  The Hinduism here has no dogmas and is rather followed as a quest fort spirituality as per ancientVedic traditions and was brought here by Indian traders and kings in the first century AD. They also brought with it spiritual ideas, history and legends - which can be seen in the unique festivals and events associated with the spirits of ancestors and their gods. Balinese calls their sacred temples 'Pura', which is a holy place with enclosed walls. There are over 20,000 of temples across the island; each is associated with a certain characteristic such as virtue of descent or geographical area.The Gayatri Mantra is recited by every Balinese school child three times a day. They believe in Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva as manifestation of one God and also encompass in it Mahayana Buddhism. 'Nyepi Day' is known as Day of silence falls in the month of March and is the beginning of Bali Saka and on this day all routine activities come to a complete halt and all people join in celebrating the quietest day. 

For the tourists Bali offers a diverse platform of paintings, wood carving, handicrafts, sculptures, water adventures, volcanoes and performing arts. The Bali temples are unique in design and every house hold has a temple. Both Men and Women are allowed inside the temples only in traditional Bali dress. The Ramayana and Mahabharata are very famous. In fact what Indian had witnessed in Ramayana and Mahabharata serials that kind of social fabric can be witnessed in Bali today. The Ramayana story is performed through a dance known as 'Kecak' dance. It can be witnessed in Tanah Lot temple and at Uluwatu. The sunset at Tanah Lot and Uluwatu is a treat to watch where the Sun dissolves in sky. The biggest attraction in Bali is the Garuda Cultural Park where the majestic Garuda Vishnu statue is located. It is the Iconic landmark of Bali. The Amphitheatre here providers colourful Balinese dances like Garuda Vishnu Ballet, Baron Keri Dance etc. The other attraction is the food plaza, arts and souvenir shop. For the tourists the Bali's shallow sea provides excellent platform for sea sports like Sea Walking, Banana Boat and Parasailing, Glass Bottom Boat, Snorking, Cruise etc

There is however, some useful advice for the tourists to book their trip after proper inquiry about the itinerary as the costs may go up if not done before hand as tour organizers takes to only commercial business places and do not focus on iconic landmarks . There is lot of bargaining in water sport activities and tourists get fleeced. Also the safety while riding boats in sea is also very poor if not settled before hand. Indian visitors must learn a few things after visiting Bali from their religious compatriots. First is how to preserve own culture and traditions; second, how to end the pernicious caste system toensure social cohesiveness; third a sense of discipline in the society and orderly behaviour on roads and; fourth how to strike a balance between modern world and the old world's own charm. 

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