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What Offends the people of Bali most.

Townsville...
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What Offends the people of Bali most.

Hi, some help please. I am aware when visiting Bali to be mindful and respect the daily offerings the Balinese people make each day. (I always do) However recently I was told by someone who had been reading up on Bali that it was not acceptable to touch their children on the head. Also that it was not appropriate to show the soles of your feet.(is that why they squat and not sit cross legged?) I did not know that. Is it true?

I would never intentionaly offend the Balinese, so if anyone can advise on anything that may not be common knowledge, I would very much appreciate the info. I think it is important to share the info so we can all be mindful when we are visiting our beloved Bali and its wonderful people. Any advise is greatly appreciated.

perth
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1. Re: What Offends the people of Bali most.

The human body is considered to have the head which is most pure because it is closest to the Gods. If you ruffle a Balinese child's hair it is considered a lack of respect.

The feet are considered most impure, being closest to the demons. That is why the Balinese kneel as you said and take their shoes off when entering their homes.

Everything is done to keep harmony between the Gods and Demons in the Hindu religion. Offerings are made to the Gods up off the ground on shrines and the Demons have their offerings put on the ground. Even the way their houses are orientated all have to do with Mt Agung which is considered the highest and most sacred being closest to the Gods.

I think as long as you respect their religion and culture, cover up to visit temples, be aware of offerings, speak politely and with respect it is all fine. The Balinese are used to us tourists coming to their beautiful island!

Brisbane, Australia
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2. Re: What Offends the people of Bali most.

The Balinese believe that the head is the most sacred part of the body so, yes it is offensive to touch any Balinese on the head, although if you did, they wouldn't say anything or show any displeasure, because they are so tolerant.

The soles of the feet are considered the most "unclean" (least sacred) part of the body as they are in contact with the earth so they don't show them as a mark of respect to others. This is put all very simply, but that's the basics, anyway.

A Balinese baby will not be put on the ground/floor until at least the age of 6 months when a ceremony is held and the child touches the ground for the first time, as a baby is considered pure and putting it on the floor will bring it in close contact with the demons who reside under the groud. Until then the child is carried by a family member the entire time it is awake and even during the day when it naps. The ceremony can be delayed if the family can't afford it, my daughter held the ceremony for her 6 month old daughter and her 6 year old son at the same time as when he was 6 months old they couldn't afford to host it. Another part of the same ceremony is that the child hair is cut. My daughter was panicking because she didn't think her daughter had enough hair to cut, LOL.

Also pointing your finger is considered offensive. If you want to point at something, your whole hand should be used. This is an Indonesian thing not just Balinese.

Anger (especially non-Balinese/Indonesian towards vendors, workers etc) will cause the Balinese to lose respect for you. You will never know by anything they say or do, it's a very subtle reaction, but it is real.

Edited: 24 October 2010, 00:44
Townsville...
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3. Re: What Offends the people of Bali most.

Thankyou so much for your replies. I did not know about the pointing thing, so I will be very mindful next month when I go, as I do tend to point. Thanks for that.

perth
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4. Re: What Offends the people of Bali most.

I've also heard that folding your arms or putting hands on hips is considered rude? I do this a lot without negative intention just out of habit, but I'm more aware of it now! I'm not sure if this is true or just an urban myth. I know the Balinese don't like upsetting the apple cart so maybe its just that they don't want to think that you're mad with them.

Sydney
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5. Re: What Offends the people of Bali most.

Hi

If you stand with your hands on your hips this signifies that you are angry, if you stand with your arms crossed this signifies that you are lazy. Definitely not an urban myth! If you must call someone or point to something then do it with your right hand, not your left! The left hand is unclean. Don't hand anything to the Balinese with your left hand.

The timing of the 'touching of the ground ceremony' referred to by Whinnie changes depending on the area you come from - in Tabanan it is at 3 months and KlungKung at 6 months ( it must be hard keeping a child off the ground for 6 months!).

I hope this helps.

Cheers

Brisbane, Australia
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6. Re: What Offends the people of Bali most.

LOL Ilab, everyone gets roped in to hold the baby. I remember my then 15 year old son walking through the compound gates and being handed a 4 month old baby. The look on his face was priceless, it was "what the.........what am I supposed to do with this". LOL. I have video of him later in the day, sitting with her on his lap, playing with her but I wish I had have gotten his initial reaction.

Perth
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for Kuta, Lovina Beach, Singaraja, Baturiti, Bali
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7. Re: What Offends the people of Bali most.

and just like buddhas to the Thais etc, you should always wear the spiritual Om sign near the shoulders....as in a necklace...or higher.

They also find it offensive to have a Tatoo of this spiritual sign if you dont believe in or understand the meaning of it.

If it is in your belief, then have it high on the body.

Lot's of tourists see it and like it and get tattos of it...even fake ones, but this is for the most quite offensive, particularly to the elders.

Also, if you have not read the book Fragrant Rice, by Janet De Neefe, then do so as apart from having recipes in it, it gives you great insight into their beliefs.

Edited: 24 October 2010, 02:22
Terrigal, Australia
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8. Re: What Offends the people of Bali most.

my balinese friends said:

the basis of most offences is politeness. the balinese and the rest of the indonesian people are extremely polite. to not show politeness is poor on you, your family and your culture to a degree.

touching head

showing bottom of foot

putting a baby on the ground

pointing

calling people with fingers upwards but is okay with palm down and fingers pointing downwards

blowing your nose

hands on hips is a sign of aggression

nudity - but there is time and place and age

anger and other negative emotions

saying things are not good - there is good in everything. esp happens when speaking indo ie ini tidak bagus.

overall, we are tourists and so we make cultural mistakes luckily, the balinese and the rest of indonesia are very tolerant to these offenses made by us because we are tourists.

Eaton, Australia
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9. Re: What Offends the people of Bali most.

I would think loud and offensive tourists would have to be high on the list...it's on mine.

Edited: 24 October 2010, 05:33
Townsville...
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10. Re: What Offends the people of Bali most.

This information is invaluable to me and I wish the airlines did a handout before landing in Bali... for all those how do I say.. Aussie Bogans.. Pity it is not a priority for the top tips about bali list on this forum.. Anyway thanks again. I was aware of some things, but not the blow nose thing... Thankyou Thankyou all again.