Balinese Hinduism is called Agama Hindu Dharma and is a blend of elements from Hinduism and Buddhism, these arrived through from India during 8th to 19th centuries. Element of Mahayana Buddhism practiced in Japan, China, and Korea as well as the Indian caste system are now important components of religion.
Balinese Hindus believe in reincarnation, when a person dies...., the soul passes into another body, where it is in torment because of evil deeds accumulated in its present and past lives. To cleanse the impurity of the soul, rituals are continually performed throughout the person's life. The soul will constantly seek to free itself from this cycle of life until it attains enlightenment or moksa.
The process of incarnation is both human and cosmic, starting from love. The union of a man and a woman is that of purusa and pradana (the male and female principle respectively), and the cosmic energy of Asmara the God of love and Ratih the Goddess of the moon. In their sexual love are united the red and white elements of desire, symbol of male sperm and female ovule. The eventual merging of the two Kamas begets what is often call "The Godly Fetus" or Sang Hyang Jabang Bayi, as the soul originates from heavenly world. A child is called Dewa or Little God during their first year of live.
Balinese believe that the mountains are the home of the God, deified ancestors and souls which did not attain moksa. The Gods and deified ancestors will descend occasionally to earth during temple ceremonies to partake of offering and enjoy entertainment. When souls are ready to reincarnate on earth, they will come from the mountains above or straight from hell. That is why the mountains are revered as the holy place.
Being multiple and pervading, God has different names, the ultimate void or Sunya expanding in an infinity of Murti, manifestations from which people select one as Ista dewata or persona God. Some of the names are indigenous such as Sang Hyang Embang and others of Indian origin, Sang Hyang Parama Kawi.
They are all seen as emanating from a single source. As the tools for maintaining the balance of the world there are rituals for everything imaginable, from knowledge and cleaning machines to marriage and birth ceremonies, all of different types and levels. Rituals consist of calling down the Gods and the ancestors for visits from their heavenly abode in their country above the mountain.
The religious rites of the Balinese consist of the human rites (manusa yadnya), the rites of the dead (pitra yadnya), rites of the Gods or temple rites (dewa yadnya), rites of demonic forces (buta yadnya), and ordainment rites (rsi yadnya).
Each phase of person's life from pregnancy to birth and birth to death will be accompanied by rituals, which are performed on certain occasions or at any time whenever the need arises. Holly water, fire, ash, geese, ducks, eggs, and leaves of dabdab tree are the purifying elements used in the rituals. Apart from its spritual purposes , the manusa yadnya rites are also carried out to oversee the person's material well being. The four companions (kanda empat) accompany the person throughout the course of his or her life. If treated well they will act as protectors, otherwise they may cause problems.
The manusa yadnya rites include birth rites, the seven months gendongan ceremony. When the soul is bound within the womb. Birth is celebrated through the penyambutan (welcoming ) ceremonies the true birth rites. The catur sanak or burying of four little siblings is when the after birth is given a ritual burial in four different place within the family compound. On the fifth or seventh day ceremony for the fall of the umbilical cord (kepus pungsed) is held. Twelve days after birth, a shrine is placed next to the baby's cot with flower and banana offerings to the dewa kumara deity, who will protect the baby until the first tooth appears.
At the age of three months the baby is allowed to touch the ground and is given a name. It has entered the earthly world and the ceremonies are to welcome and guide the child during his or her first step in life. This is how a child attains full incarnation of human status. like any other being, the child will be subjected to cycle of Balinese calender. He or she will have an otonan anniversary in the family temple, with offerings every 210 days.
According to the principles of cosmic harmony, man is expected to reach moksa. To do this he or she should strive to fulfill three other goals of life, desire (kama), wealth (artha), and virtue (dharma). Each of these goals should be fulfilled in an order of priority depending on the stage reached in life, such as when young, becoming an adolescent, getting married and becoming old.
Desire must be exercised with caution and balanced by dharma. This control of desire is illustrated in mesangih or metatah, a tooth-filing rite which takes place during adolescence, a time when sexual desire has reached its peak. The teeth symbolize the animal or the uncontrolled side of humans and Balinese demons always have big canine teeth. By filing them, six enemies will be eliminated, namely, lust, greed, anger, intoxication, confusion, and jealousy.
The Balinese marriage ceremony is preceded by an engagement of mepadik during which the couple falsely elope and are supported by a group or accomplices, who protect the couple during their honeymoon. After three days they are considered man and wife. The ploy is a serious one as the girl's parents may be furious and refuse their blessing. The wedding ceremony follows in a more formal manner. It emphasizes that one's desire, while being exercised, should at the same time be kept under tight control. The climax of the wedding ritual, Mesakapan is meant to appease the earthly buta sor, which are the origin of desires and temptation priorities in life then shift towards family and accumulation of wealth or artha.
Male heirs are regarded as important because it these heirs or sentana who will implement the rituals of death and look after the family temples. It is therefore important to accumulate wealth so the heirs can safeguard the process of release and ensure that the rites for their ancestors and community can be financed.
The Balinese death is seen as a return to your origins. The preceding wheels of one's life are the way to ultimate release. Not all corpses are cremated immediately as some wait for an auspicious day, a collective ceremony or until their descendants have enough money to perform the rites.
The cremation rituals is reminder of the cosmic symbolism of life. The tower is duplicate of the cosmos, the corpse is put in the middle, symbolizing its position between the spritual and the human worlds. The sarcophagus, in which the body is burned is a vehicle to take the soul away. The ashes are collected and taken to the sea. It is here that the soul passes through hell to be tortured and cleansed. The soul is then called back on shore and eventually taken back to the Mother Mountain, Gunung Agung.
The souls is then enshrined in the family temple and the deceased is now an ancestor, until the next incarnation. There are few societies in the world where religion play a role such as it does in Bali. The incredible beauty and color that accompany the rituals and offerings, which seem to be ever occuring in Bali, harmonize the world of world of man with the cosmic world of the Gods.