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Bali

Unlike most of Muslim-majority Indonesia, about 93.18% of Bali's population adheres to Balinese Hinduism, formed as a combination of existing local beliefs and Hindu influences from mainland Southeast Asia and South Asia. Minority religions include Islam (4.79%), Christianity (1.38%), and Buddhism (0.64%). These figures do not include immigrants from other parts of Indonesia. Bali consists of about three million people, nearly all of whom practice the Balinese Hindu religion, a heterogeneous amalgam in which gods and demigods are worshipped together with Buddhist heroes, with the spirits of ancestors and with indigenous deities associated with agriculture and with places considered sacred. Religion as it is practiced in Bali is a composite belief system that embraces not only theology, philosophy, and mythology, but ancestor worship, animism and magic. It is supposed to pervade every aspect of traditional life. Bali Hinduism, which has roots in Indian Hinduism and in Buddhism, adopted the animistic traditions of the indigenous people, which inhabited the island around the first millennium BCE. This influence strengthened the belief that the gods and goddesses are present in all things. Every element of nature, therefore, possesses its own power, which reflects the power of the gods. A rock, tree, dagger, or woven cloth is a potential home for spirits whose energy can be directed for good or evil. Balinese Hinduism is deeply interwoven with art and ritual, and is less closely preoccupied with scripture, law, and belief than Islam in Indonesia. The Hindu New Year, Nyepi, is celebrated in the spring by a day of silence. On this day everyone stays at home and tourists are encouraged to remain in their hotels. On the preceding day large, colorful sculptures of ogoh-ogoh monsters are paraded and finally burned in the evening to drive away evil spirits. Other festivals throughout the year are specified by the Balinese pawukon calendrical system. Balinese and Bahasa Indonesia are the most widely spoken languages in Bali, and like most Indonesians, the vast majority of Balinese people are bilingual or trilingual. There are several indigenous Balinese languages, but most Balinese can also use the most widely spoken option: modern common Balinese. The usage of different Balinese languages was traditionally determined by the Balinese caste system and by clan membership, but this tradition is diminishing. English is a common third language (and the primary foreign language) of many Balinese, owing to the requirements of the tourism industry.

Indonesian Theater
Shamanism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam have all influenced theater in Indonesia. Although more than 3000 islands with hundreds of different cultures and performance traditions make up the Republic of Indonesia, only about 20 influential theater genres have been studied, primarily on the islands of Java and Bali. Early influences on Indonesian theater include improvisational poetry games and trance-dancing led by shamans. The recitation of Javanese epics derived from two great Sanskrit works of India, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, were part of religious rites from the 9th to the 14th centuries and also played a role in theater’s development. Traditional theater in Indonesia developed between the 7th and 13th centuries, when a Buddhist and Hindu kingdom, Sri Vijaya, ruled the area from the island of Sumatra and traded with India and China. Performances at the ruler’s court featured female dancers, shadow puppets, masked performers, clowns, and a gamelan orchestra made up of gongs, metallophones (which resemble xylophones but have bars of metal rather than wood), xylophones, and drums. On Java, another island near Sumatra, Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms were in power until Islam reached the island in the 13th century. Despite Islam’s ban on theater and dance, the performing arts survived on Java, probably because of the presence of Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam in which dance has an important role. Performers modified tales of gods and heroes from the Mahabharata and introduced stories of Muslim heroes and saints. By 1520 Indonesia had become predominantly Islamic, while Bali remained Hindu. Bali is known for its trance dances, in which performers experience an altered state of consciousness and seek contact with the spirit world. Indonesia’s first modern play, Bebasari (1926) by Rustam Effendi, was an allegory for opposition to the Dutch rule of Indonesia, which had begun in the 1600s and lasted until the mid-1900s. Major contemporary figures in theater include playwright, director, and actor W. S. Rendra and Balinese playwright and director Putu Wijaya. Teater Koma, a theater company in Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, presents operas about Indonesia’s socially dispossessed classes that blend indigenous Wayang is the term for puppetry, a hugely popular genre in Indonesia. A single dalang (puppet master) manipulates all the puppets, recites improvised narration and

dialogue, and cues the gamelan orchestra. Performances may occur as part of religious rituals or for entertainment alone. Puppets can be intricately carved out of animal hide, sculpted from wood, or painted on scrolls. Some forms of puppetry feature human actors who move in a puppet-like fashion. Wayang stories come from the Mahabharata, Islamic tales, or local folklore. In all stories, balance and order are restored to a world threatened by chaos. In shadow puppetry, such as wayang kulit from Java or wayang parwa from Bali, the dalang and orchestra sit behind a white screen, which is lit by an oil or electric lamp. The puppeteer uses rods to manipulate puppets, which cast their shadows on the screen. Puppets are delicately cut out of hide or wood and are typically 30 to 60 cm (12 to 24 in) tall. Clown or servant characters speak the local dialect, while mythical heroes speak an ancient literary language. Most audience members see only silhouetted shadows, but some watch from behind the dalang. Performances are lengthy and may last all night. Legong is Bali’s best-known dance-drama. In the legong young girls, who wear tightly wrapped sarongs and flower headdresses, perform to gamelan music. Legong is based on a dance called sanghyang dedari, in which girls in trance believe they are possessed by goddesses and may dance with closed eyes on the shoulders of dancing men. Kecak, nicknamed the Balinese monkey chant, developed around 1930. In kecak, a male chorus encircles a temple courtyard, imitating the “cak-cak” sound of monkeys as the epic Ramayana is enacted in pantomime. A dalang narrates. The kecak is usually performed by the light of oil lamps and serves primarily as entertainment. A popular, working-class form of theater known as ludruk began on Java in the 1920s. In the ludruk, which is often satirical, clowns and transvestite singers perform songs interspersed with dialogue in the local dialect. Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2007. © 1993-2006 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Bali
Bali island, southern Indonesia, one of the Lesser Sunda Islands, in the Indian Ocean. It is situated between the island of Java to the west, from which it is separated by Bali Strait, and the island of Lombok to the east from which it is separated by Lombok Strait. Bali is 145 km (90 mi) long and 80 km (50 mi) wide. The principal cities are the northern port of Singaraja and Denpasar, the capital, near the southern coast. Mountain ranges cross the island from east to west. The highest point on the island is Mount Agung (3,142 m/10,308 ft), a volcano that erupted in March 1963. In the south the land descends to form an alluvial plain, watered by shallow rivers, dry in the dry season and overflowing whenever there are periods of heavy rains. Economically and culturally, Bali is one of the most important islands of Indonesia. Rice is grown on irrigated, terraced hillsides; other crops include sugarcane, coffee, copra, tobacco, fruits, and vegetables. Cattle and hogs are also raised. The Balinese are skilled artisans, particularly in wood carving, and in fashioning objects of tortoiseshell and of gold, silver, and other metals. The women of Bali are noted for their traditional dancing and for their skills in weaving cloth of gold and silver threads, as well as for embroidering silk and cotton clothing. Balinese artists are world renowned for their skill in carving wood and painting representations of the local mythical beings. Here a man in the village of Pujung, near Ubud, paints masks. The principal religion on the island of Bali is a variation of Hinduism that incorporates Polynesian religious rites. Pura Besakih, on the slopes of Mount Agung, is one of the largest and most sacred Hindu temples on the island of Bali. Primarily Muslim today, Indonesia had rival Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms for several centuries. Bali was first visited by the Dutch in 1597, but Dutch rule was not firmly established until 1908. In 1946, after the Japanese occupation of the island during World War II, Bali was included in the newly formed state of East Indonesia, becoming part of the United States of Indonesia in 1948. In 1950 Bali became part of the unified republic of Indonesia. Area, 5,623 sq km (2,171 sq mi); population (2003 estimate) 3,422,700.
Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2007. © 1993-2006 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.