Although the Balinese are Hindus, they do not follow the caste system as
found in India. In Bali, everyone is entitled to undergo a congregation
ceremony, to become high priests from various clans, such as for the clans of
Pande, Pasek Sapta Rsi, Pasek Kayuselem, Pasek Bendesa, Arya Pinatih and
Bujangga Wesnawa, aside from those from the Brahmana clans.
All of the high priests have the same rights and duties. In fact, most of the
temple priests are people of "ordinary". What is more important than
caste is the so called "WARGA". Warga has a special honorific name, such
as Gusti for Warga Arya Kenceng, Arya Pinatih, etc. Ida
Bagus and Ida Ayu for Warga Brahmana Siwa ; Cokorda and
Anak Agung for Warga Ksatria Dalem ; Dewa for Warga
Ksatria Taman Bali, etc.
Most of Balinese life still centers on the traditional villages. Even Balinese who move elsewhere on the island will still return home to their family village for holidays, temple ceremonies, weddings, death or community evens. Each village is devided into a number of BANJAR, an egalitarian group that make decisions based upon consensus, ensuring that village life proceeds smoothly and free of conflicts.
The community shares responsibilities for arranging village rituals and for coming together to help those in need. Communities are also have their own art, musics and dance groups, which perform at local ceremonies. It is this strong sense of the importance of social and family bonds that have helped Balinese culture endure over centuries.
Although the majority of Bali are Hindus, there are also minority groups of Balinese Christians, Muslims and Buddhist, as well as ethnic Chinese who have been living on the island for centuries. The strong community organizations of Bali and the traditional tolerance that is a part of the Bali's culture ensure that these groups live together in peace and mutual respect.
When welcoming visitors, Balinese bear in mind the philosophical values of Tri Hita Karana - their concept for harmonious living. Hindhu - Balinese society and daily life and activities are all based on these deeply engrained values. Balinese people believe that diseases and disasters come about due to imbalance and conflict between man and the nature. Imbalance occurs because people disturb the environment without thinking about how to preserve it. Usually when Balinese cut down a tree to build a house, for example, they then plan two trees in its place to make up for it.
If people from outside Bali trying to destroy Bali (The Bali Bombing tragedy in 2002, for example), generally Balinese will not take any revenge but rather hold ritual ceremonies such as Pamarisudha Karipubhaya, Bhuta Yadya, Tawur Agung, Tawur Gentuh and Pakelem. These rituals were carried out several days after the bombings, and were aimed to return the harmonious balance, according to the Balinese Tri Mandala concept. This philosophical value is meant to make Balinese love peace (Ahimsa) and not harm themselves or others. This is why Balinese will not usually be involved in terrorism or any activity that has the potential to harm others or nature.
*) Source : Bali Interactive CD-Rom "Bali, the Island of Peace" by Bali Tourism Authority, 2000 and "Bali in Brief", 2007, by Bali Government Tourism Office