Polygamy in Bali

Welcome to Bali, a tropical paradise known for its stunning beaches, vibrant culture, and rich traditions. But did you know that polygamy is also a part of Balinese culture? In this blog post, we’ll delve into the definition of polygamy and explore how it is practiced in Bali. We’ll challenge stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding this topic and provide insights on what it’s like to experience polygamy in Bali firsthand. Get ready for an eye-opening journey into the fascinating world of Balinese relationships!

The Definition Of Polygamy

Polygamy, a marital practice in which one person has multiple spouses at the same time, is rooted in Balinese culture. Adat, or traditional customs and norms, play a significant role in shaping the acceptance of polygamous relationships within Bali. Brides are often chosen based on family connections and economic considerations rather than solely on love and attraction. Despite its historical prevalence, modern views on polygamy in Bali have become contested as societal values continue to evolve.

Understanding Polygamy

Types of polygamy can vary depending on cultural and religious customs. In Bali, a form of polygamy known as adat is practiced, where men are allowed to have multiple wives. This tradition is rooted in cultural beliefs and is often seen as a way to maintain social harmony.

In Bali, polygamy known as adat is practiced, symbolizing wealth and power for men while raising questions about gender equality and emotional well-being.

Cultural and religious reasons play a significant role in the practice of polygamy in Bali. According to Balinese customs, having multiple brides signifies wealth and power for men. Additionally, some individuals may choose polygamous relationships due to their religious beliefs or as a way to preserve lineage.

However, challenges and controversies surround polygamous relationships in Bali. Some argue that it perpetuates gender inequality by treating women as objects for marriage rather than partners. Others question the emotional well-being of all parties involved, raising concerns about jealousy and fairness within these unions.

Overall, understanding the types of polygamy practiced in Bali sheds light on cultural practices deeply rooted in history. It also highlights the challenges faced by those involved in such relationships today.

Polygamy In Bali

Polygamy in Bali is a prevalent practice embedded deeply within the local culture, known as “adat.” In this traditional society, multiple marriages are considered acceptable and even expected. Factors contributing to the practice include the desire for social status and economic stability. However, polygamy can have significant impacts on family dynamics, leading to competition among wives and potential imbalances in attention given to children.

  • Prevalence of polygamy in Balinese society
  • Factors contributing to the practice of polygamy in Bali
  • Impacts of polygamy on family dynamics

Historical Perspective

The history of polygamous traditions in Bali can be traced back to the ancient adat that governed the island. Polygamy was accepted as a cultural practice, influenced by Hinduism which had a strong presence in Bali. The Hindu belief system allowed for multiple marriages, leading to the acceptance and prevalence of polygamy among Balinese communities. However, within polycultural marriages in Bali, traditional roles and expectations vary depending on the specific adat followed by each family. Brides are expected to adhere to their respective adat’s customs and fulfill their duties within the marriage.

Modern Views On Polygamy In Bali

Changing attitudes towards monogamous relationships among younger generations are reshaping the views on polygamy in Bali. The influence of education, urbanization, and globalization has led to a decline indeed in traditional practices, including multiple marriages. As young people become aware of gender equality issues, they are questioning the sustainability of having multiple brides in marriage. This shift is slowly but surely increasing awareness about the importance of monogamy and equal partnerships in modern Balinese society.

Polygamy Practices In Bali

Polygamy Practices In Bali

Traditional Balinese Polygamy

Historical Context: Polygamy in Bali has a long-standing history rooted in Hindu traditions and the agrarian society of the past. It was primarily practiced among the Balinese royalty and aristocracy, serving as a symbol of wealth and power.

Cultural Significance: In Balinese culture, polygamy is seen as a way to preserve lineage and ensure male heirs for family prosperity. It also reflects the belief in karma, where multiple wives are believed to bring good fortune to both husbands and families.

Rituals and Ceremonies: Polygamous unions in Bali often involve elaborate rituals known as “wedding pawiwahan.” These ceremonies include offerings, prayers, dances, music performances, and traditional costumes that showcase the rich cultural heritage of Bali. The collective participation of extended families makes these celebrations vibrant displays of unity and tradition.

Polygamy Today

  • Legal Status:
  • Polygamy is legal in Indonesia, including Bali.
  • However, it is regulated by strict laws that require certain conditions to be met for a marriage to be considered valid.
  • Social Acceptance:
  • Polygamy is practiced in some communities in Bali.
  • Though not widely accepted or openly discussed, it continues to exist within the cultural context of these communities.

Impact on Modern Society:

  • The practice of polygamy has mixed implications for modern Balinese society:
  • It can provide economic stability and support traditional gender roles.
  • At the same time, it raises concerns about gender equality and poses challenges for emotional well-being within marital relationships.

Cost Of Living In Bali

Challenging Stereotypes And Misconceptions

Polygamy in Bali may come as a surprise to many travelers, who often associate the practice with negative connotations. However, it is important to challenge these stereotypes and misconceptions by exploring the positive aspects of polygamy in Bali. By understanding Balinese women’s perspectives on this cultural practice, we can gain a deeper appreciation for their agency and autonomy within their own communities. It is crucial that visitors approach this topic with cultural sensitivity and respect, acknowledging the complexities and nuances involved in traditional Balinese culture.

Polygamy In Bali

Exploring The Positive Aspects

Cultural Preservation and Tradition: Bali’s practice of polygamy is deeply rooted in its cultural traditions, allowing for the preservation of ancient customs that have been passed down through generations. By embracing polygamy, Balinese communities are able to maintain their unique cultural identity and ensure the continuation of age-old rituals, ceremonies, and values.

Financial Stability for Families: Polygamous marriages in Bali often result in larger households with multiple wives and children. This can lead to increased financial stability as there are more individuals contributing to the household income. The pooling of resources allows families to meet their basic needs more easily and provide better opportunities for education, healthcare, and overall well-being.

Strong Community Bonds: Polygamy fosters a sense of cohesion within Balinese communities by emphasizing collective responsibility and interdependence among spouses. Multiple wives share not only domestic responsibilities but also emotional support, creating tight-knit networks that promote a strong sense of belonging. These deep community bonds contribute to social harmony and a supportive environment for all members involved in polygamous relationships.

Balinese Women’s Perspectives

In Bali, the perspectives of Balinese women provide valuable insights into their experiences within their cultural norms. Agency and empowerment play significant roles in shaping these perspectives, as women embrace opportunities to assert themselves and carve out their own paths. Understanding the cultural norms that govern Balinese society helps shed light on the challenges faced by women, highlighting their resilience in navigating traditional gender roles.

Cultural Sensitivity and Respect

Appreciating the diversity of relationships is an essential aspect of cultural sensitivity and respect. In Bali, it’s important to recognize that polygamy is a traditional practice deeply rooted in their culture. Instead of adopting judgmental attitudes, we should strive to understand the historical and cultural context behind this unique relationship dynamic.

Having a “live and let live” mentality is crucial when encountering different cultural practices like polygamy in Bali. While it may be unfamiliar or even controversial for some, it’s essential to approach these customs with an open mind and respect for local traditions. Embracing a mindset of acceptance allows us to appreciate the richness and uniqueness of diverse cultures around the world without imposing our own values on others.

Experiencing Polygamy In Bali

Experiencing Polygamy In Bali

While exploring the enchanting island of Bali, one can’t help but be intrigued by its unique cultural practices. Among these is the surprising prevalence of polygamy within certain communities. Witnessing traditional rituals and ceremonies firsthand allows visitors to gain a deeper understanding of this complex relationship dynamic.

Participating In Rituals And Ceremonies

Attending a traditional Balinese wedding ceremony is an unforgettable experience that provides insight into the rich cultural heritage of Bali. The vibrant colors, intricate rituals, and joyful celebrations showcase the importance placed on marriage in Balinese society. Observing the Melasti purification ritual offers a glimpse into the spiritual beliefs and practices of the local community. This cleansing ceremony involves participants gathering at sacred water sources to purify themselves before important religious events, highlighting their deep connection with nature.

Exploring the significance of Galungan festival reveals how Balinese Hindus celebrate their victory over evil spirits by erecting beautifully adorned bamboo poles known as “penjor” outside their homes, symbolizing protection and prosperity for all. These unique ceremonies provide travelers with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the cultural traditions that shape daily life in Bali.

Engaging With Local Communities

Visiting a local village and interacting with its residents is a great way to immerse yourself in the rich culture of Bali. Take the time to chat with the locals, learn about their daily lives, and listen to their stories. By doing so, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of their traditions and customs.

Joining a community gathering or ‘gotong-royong’ is another fantastic opportunity to engage with the local communities in Bali. This traditional practice involves coming together as a community to work on communal projects such as cleaning public spaces or maintaining temples. Not only will you contribute positively to the community, but you’ll also get firsthand experience of Balinese values like cooperation and unity.

Respecting Cultural Traditions

Understanding the role of polygamy in Balinese society: While it may seem unconventional to some, polygamy has a long-standing cultural significance in Bali. It is rooted in the belief that multiple wives bring prosperity and ensure the continuation of lineage. While travelers may find this practice surprising or unfamiliar, it’s important to approach it with an open mind and respect for local traditions.

Adopting modest dress code when visiting religious sites: When exploring Bali’s sacred temples and religious sites, it is crucial to dress appropriately out of respect for the local culture. This means covering your shoulders, knees, and ankles with loose-fitting clothing. It not only shows reverence towards their beliefs but also allows you to fully immerse yourself in the spiritual ambiance of these awe-inspiring places.

‘Canang sari’ offerings: What you need to know: As you wander through Bali’s streets or visit homes and businesses, you’ll undoubtedly come across ‘canang sari,’ small woven baskets filled with colorful flowers found at doorsteps or altars. These offerings are a significant part of Balinese Hinduism as they symbolize gratitude towards deities and ancestors. Avoid stepping on them as it is considered disrespectful; instead, navigate around them gently while appreciating their beauty and meaning within Balinese culture.


Polygamy plays a significant role in Balinese society, shaped by cultural perspectives and traditions. While it has deep roots in the traditional culture of Bali, modern views on polygamy have brought about controversies and debates. As travelers exploring this intriguing destination, understanding the complex relationship between polygamy and Balinese society can provide deeper insights into its unique cultural fabric.

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