Balinese Rites of Passage

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Bali’s Hindu community believe that existence is a continuous cycle of birth, life and death. Therefore, elaborate rituals are performed at various stages of life to help one navigate this process. These rites of passage commence when a newborn baby is just 42 days old as each child is thought to embody the soul of a reincarnated ancestor.

Another Balinese Hindu ceremony is the tooth filing ritual that takes place during late puberty. This is performed as a gesture to symbolically eliminate certain human characteristic such as greed, anger and jealousy to help the individual lead a healthy and well-adjusted existence. The next major ceremony is then marriage marking full entrance into adulthood as well as acceptance as an equal member of the local community.  

Upon death, a cremation is the most important rite of passage that a family can perform for its loved ones. The body is carried in a lively procession to the village cremation plot and set alight to burn. The ashes are later collected and then offered to the sea to release the soul. A final ceremony sees the deceased become a defied ancestor that can be worshipped at a special shrine within the family compound.   

All of these ceremonies involve Balinese families and neighbours working together to ensure that every single detail is executed with precision and care. Everyone participates and it is this rare sense of belonging that makes Bali and its culture so unique in today’s modern world.