There are few societies in the world where religion plays as important role as it does in Bali.
The unique Balinese Hindu religion expresses itself in temple festivals and in the countless simple rituals performed by faithful, devoted and religious Balinese people. No opportunity is lost to worship God in a series of ceremonies, from birth to death, often involving whole communities, if not the whole island, in beautiful and exotic celebrations of religious life.
Balinese Hinduism incorporates elements from Buddhism, animist beliefs and ancestral worship, which were accumulated during the religion’s long journey from the Indian motherland to the Indonesian Archipelago.
The first written records, on clay tablets with Buddhist inscriptions, described the appearance of Buddhism and Hinduism on Bali around the 8th century CE. Archaeological excavations of Buddhist inscriptions found small clay stupa figurines in the area of Gianyar.
In the ancient Bali Hindu religion, there were nine Hindu sects: Pasupata, Bhairawa, SiwaShidanta, Waisnawa, Bodha, Brahma, Resi, Sora and Ganapatya. It was very interesting that each of these religious beliefs had in their own deity. After persuasion and tension between religion sects, three major sects were fused as Hindu Bali and also known as Hindu Dharma.
In Hindu Dharma, the one supreme God, Ida Sanghyang Widhi Wasa, with his three manifestations Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Siwa the Transformer, presides over a pantheon of countless local deities and spirits.
The Balinese believe that the world is divided into opposites; good and bad, day and night, mountain and sea, right and left, sun and moon, and so on. The cardinal belief is that the world lies between two opposing and antagonistic poles. Left to itself, everything would fall into disorder.
The aim is to achieve a state where the two forces of good and evil are in balance, which is the purpose of ceremonies, prayers and offerings. In this environment, the Balinese attempt to achieve moksha (religious purity) by living in accordance with their religion’s three guiding principles: tatwa, the philosophies of God and the universe, susila, the karmic moral codes and objectives of a rightful life on earth, and upakara, the ceremonies and rituals performed by the dutiful worshipperofferings.