Bali and its rich cultural traditions

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The exotic island of Bali is situated in the Pacific
ocean. The economy of Bali thrives basically on tourism.
Bali has the same importance for Asia as Hawaii islands
have to the United States. Bali was earlier a Dutch
colony and became an important destination for cruise
ships in 1920s. The word of its beauty spread when cruise
ships and other tourists started pouring in to Bali.
Despite its proximity to the island of Java, Bali has a
contrasting culture to that of island of Java. Most of
the Balinese people are Hindus. When the whole of
Indonesia was converting to Islam, it was only the island
of Bali that remained untouched and through the present, the major part
of the population is Hindu. Hinduism practiced by the people
of Bali is similar to that in India, but the cultural
practices are totally different and unique.
On the island of Bali the cultural differences with
respect to Indian Hinduism can be found in their temple
styles, ceremonial offerings, rites and rituals. Balinese
cultural rites are based on the belief in reincarnation. Balinese Hinduism is actually a blend of indigenous customs
with Buddhist and Hindu influences with that reached the
islands over a period of centuries, although there are only
a small number of practicing Buddhists on Bali today. The
Balinese society is rigidly organized according to the
Hindu caste system, and people’s names reflect their place
in that system.
Bali has a very long history and traces its people to
prehistoric times. These islands were initially ruled by
their own leaders and were under Java. Thereafter, it
became a Dutch colony. It was only during Word War II
that the Japanese overthrew the Dutch and gained control
of these islands. It was in 1949 that these islands
gained independence with Indonesia.
After independence, the communists took charge of the
affairs of the islands and progress was little or slow.
It was in 1965 that General Suharto came to power and
placed the islands on the path to progress. He initiated
a long movement against the communists that resulted in
the killing of about 50,000 people. It was during his
rule that the country progressed and the tourism
industry really grew. The economy of Bali revolves around
agriculture and tourism.
Despite an assortment of cultural invasions, the Balinese
culture has retained its traditions and uniqueness. While
the movement of General Suharto disturbed a number of
traditional communities and influenced the culture in
Bali; the islands held onto their traditions and values.
Bali is a place that reflects deep rooted traditional
Hindu customs and practices them with pride. They have
official organizations that strive to preserve this
heritage and maintain the historical treasures for future
generations.
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