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Some Balinese Words

Some Balinese Words And The Cultural Concepts Behind Them – PART 1

This will not be a general language guide to Bali. Rather, this will be a specific focus on Balinese words which sum up a concept that is uniquely Balinese (or at least Indonesian). This is important to know, because none of these words have a direct translation into any English dialect. And so, each of them provide an interesting insight for those about to visit (or return to) the island of Bali.

Rojong – The concept of mutual communal cooperation.

In the west, we might have mottoes like “everyone for themselves” or “may the best player win”. This spirit of individual competition is somewhat looked down upon in Balinese society, in favor of “rojong”, the sharing of work so that all may gain equal benefit from the results. Kind of in a commune / socialism sense, many Balinese villages thrive on community gardens, group herding, and sharing of resources and even living space. If you’ve heard the expression “it takes a village to raise a child”, that’s the kind of spirit the Balinese have.

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Some Balinese Words

Some Balinese Words And The Cultural Concepts Behind Them – PART 2

Here are yet more Balinese and Indonesian words with complex ideas behind them which are unique to that part of the world. Vacationers in Bali, no matter how casual, would benefit from getting to know some of these concepts, because they express ideas that are both uncommon to the Western world-view and indelibly embedded into Balinese society.

Rasa – The feeling evoked by a work of art.

Arts in Bali and most of Indonesia have a trait that is peculiar to Western thought: they may be overwhelmingly sad, scary, erotic, or humorous, to the point of making the work itself a caricature. Don’t be confused by this over-bold statement; this is actually the “rasa”, a Sanskrit word that’s seen as a quality to strive for. There’s some dozen of them, and they’re meant to invoke different Hindu gods and even have chakra colors associated with them. For instance, a statue of a conquering warrior might invoke the “viram rasa”, associated with the deity Indra and the color yellow.

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