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Home » Religion

Bound by Obligation: To the gods  

by on Wednesday, 17 October 2007One Comment | 1,292 views

“Obligation” is a notion that keeps Bali as it is, all socio-cultural activities of the Balinese are based on this notion. Temple ceremonies are held based on the obligations to the gods and ancestors. Big rituals can be held with the helps of others based on mutual obligation, the old law “you scratch mine I scratch yours” creates a bond of obligation which enables even a small family to hold a big ceremony.


Based on the scripture, the obligations to the gods are based on the concept of debt to the gods (Dewa Rna), Balinese believe that humans have a great debt to the gods for bestowing life and blessings to them. But in the real life, few people have good understanding on this concept. For most of the Balinese obligations to the gods are based on either the fear of divine wrath of the gods or the wish to obtain gods favor. The divine wrath of the gods is something that Balinese will not trifle with; it is the source of all calamity, sickness and disaster. And the gods favor (pasuecan Ida Bhatara) is the key to prosperity and happiness.


Whether the motive behind the obligations to the gods is avoidance of divine wrath or securing the favor of the gods, a Balinese will work voluntarily when the time for preparation of the temple ceremony comes. Since when the time for work in the temple comes the obligations to help the preparation of the temple ceremony is not solely based on the obligations to the gods but also the obligation to the temple’s congregation which are usually his neighbors, the members of his clan, his relatives, or his fellow villagers whose helps are invaluable in the time of need.

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