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Home » People & Community

Balinese Family: Patriarchal?  

by on Tuesday, 6 February 2007No Comment | 3,447 views

Balinese society is based on a strong patriarchal system. Son inherits everything, wealth, debt, religious and social obligations, family temple, and of course obligation to perform cremation ceremony for his parents. Balinese believes that only through a son, the family line and cycle of reincarnation are preserved and a good son will ensure that his parents and ancestor get a decent place in the next world.

Balinese society is based on a strong patriarchal system. Son inherits everything, wealth, debt, religious and social obligations, family temple, and of course obligation to perform cremation ceremony for his parents.

Some Balinese still think that they are childless if there is no son in their family. A daughter is considered a loss since after marriage she moves to her husband’s household and performs her religious duties at his family temple and leaves her own.

A serious problem occurs when a family has no son only daughters. There is a threat of broken family line and cycle of reincarnation. After the parents pass away no one will look after the property and family temple, no one will represent the family in religious and social events. This situation is unacceptable to the Balinese.

[photopress:pagerwesi03.jpg,full,pp_image]

To fix this situation a male may have to be adopted. Another solution is for the bride to take the role of the male heir in her own family and the husband becomes a nominal female. This is called a nyentana marriage. Though the bride take the role of male heir but in everyday life and socio-religious events she does not take the male task. The groom after marriage lives in his wife’s house, abandon his own house and family temple, inherits his wife’s family house and temple, he also represent his wife’s family in social and religious events.

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flickr.com/photos/sherizan/

This kind marriage can be difficult since the husbands can become the subject of derision in the village. It is considered a disgrace and unmanly for a Balinese man to perform this kind of marriage and assume a lower position in the family line since his wife takes the highest role in the family life, the role of male heir. Other factors also contribute to the rarity of this kind of marriage. First, the number of Balinese man is lower than the number of Balinese female, there is shortage of groom in Bali. Finding a Balinese man who is ready to abandon his family house and temple is almost impossible. Economic background also play important roles in this matter. A Balinese man from a family with good economic background will not even dream to perform the nyentana marriage. The bride family in this kind of marriage is usually has better economic background than the family of the groom.

Believe it or not, this kind of marriage usually produces most of domestic problems in Balinese life. But there are many nyentana marriages that survives through the storms of domestic problems.

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