A magnificent Asian archipelago brimming with culture and history, Bali is steeped in rich tradition and spirituality that centres around art and religion. Many Balinese people are an artist of some kind and enioy spending their time working on arts and crafts using techniques that have been passed down through families over many generations. Many public areas, homes and rice paddy fields are decorated by detailed paintings, intricate carvings, fine weaving, extraordinary rice decorations and artworks that pay religious homage.
Bali's culture is a complex and diverse system that is highly adaptable and centres around the concept of time, place and situation or Desa, Kala, Patra as the locals call it. This notion asserts the world is a product of the interactions between the material and the eternal. This concept is most vividly expressed in the famous barong and keris dance.
Home to beautifully adorned sacred temples, Bali villages hold many temple festivals and colourful ceremonies throughout each year. During the 16th Century, 9 great temples were built including the most famous, Pura Agung as well as the Mother Temple of Pura Besakih on Gunung Agung, the country's most sacred mountain.
Religion is an important practice of Balinese culture, with many rituals and traditions occurring from the moment of birth, through puberty, into marriage, childbirth and eventually death. The Balinese also believe in the afterlife, and celebrate this through national festivals including Kuningan, Galungan and Nyepi, the national day of silence.
The most popular religion in Bali is a unique form of Hindu, known as Hindu Dharma. Said to be the closest form of religion and social structure in early Java, Hindu Dharma has come to be mixed with strange folklore and other belief systems, although not all Balinese people have adopted this hybrid of the religion. There are even isolated groups of people known as Bali Aga who live in the mountains of Tenganan and Trunyan who practice their own ancient religion based upon animist beliefs.