Thursday, 23 May 2013

Bali to experience a home away from home

Bali


Situated between Java and Lombok, the little island of Bali is one of the 33 provinces in the Republic of Indonesia. Spread across an area of just 5, 636 square kilometers, Bali is easily accessible by regular flights from Jakarta and Singapore.

The history of Bali dates back to pre-historic times. Though not much is known about the period during which Indian traders brought Hinduism to the Indonesian archipelago, evidence shows that Bali came under Hindu influence from neighbouring Java. Later, Europeans set foot in Bali when Dutch seafarers landed here in 1597.

Enamoured by its prosperity and charm, the Dutch slowly worked towards colonising the island. Having conquered a majority of the Indonesian islands, they took over Bali after a violent struggle. By 1908 it had become part of the Dutch East India Company. The Dutch occupation over Bali was however short-lived, after the Japanese expelled them during the WWll.

Along with the other islands comprising the Indonesian archipelago, Bali gained its freedom from the Japanese rule in the year 1945 and became a part of the Republic of Indonesia. However, it took four more years for the international community to recognise the Republic of Indonesia as an independent nation.

A tropical monsoon climate coupled with the volcanic nature of its mountains makes Bali a fertile ground for rich agriculture. Surrounded by coral reefs, the island is a treasure trove, home to diverse species of flora and fauna.

The majority of the population is Balinese Hindus and practices a religion which is a blend of Hinduism, Buddhism and native tribal beliefs. Rituals and ceremonies play a vital role in the life of Balinese people.

With nearly 20,000 temples across the island there are festivities going on throughout the year. Most of them are accompanied by dance performances depicting stories from Hindu epics like Ramayana. Gamelan, a form of Balinese percussion orchestra is also quite renowned. The main languages spoken are Balinese and Indonesian.

Though the booming tourism industry has brought in a lot of changes and improvements in the island’s economy and infrastructure, Balinese people still live by their age-old beliefs, preserving their traditions to be passed on for the future generations to come.