Animism in Bali

We’ve all heard about animism as a part of Balinese Hinduism. Some people might consider this primitive, the worshipping of mountains, the fight between good and evil and ancestor worship. Nevertheless, animist beliefs have been melded with Hinduism to form Agama Hindu, the local verson of the religion.

Animist beliefs are expressed in many forms including large stones, trees and other objects, which are thought to be the dwellings of invisible beings. Often a small shrine may be built for them. I remember visiting a guest house in East Bali and noticing the protective roof that had been built for a boulder that overlooked the ocean.




The canang (bamboo trays of offerings) that are placed at ground level, are to deter buta kala, demonic forces that gather at crossroads, rivers, graveyards, or at any important event. Balinese parasols indicate that a deity is present. Often an effigy of an animal gods is presented with offerings, a pair of mythical demon statues will guard the entrance to a temple. Balinese people believe that ceremonial krises (wiggly knife) and daggers ahve special powers and can send the owner into a trance. Banyan trees a a staple of Balinese temples, the trees decorated on special days and offerings are placed at the base. Animism is a fascinating part of Balinese Agama Hindu.

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