The Importance of Rice in Balinese Culture

Bali is known the world over for its rich cultural heritage, but what some may not know is that the cultivation of rice is an integral part of it. In fact, rice has played a significant role in Balinese society for centuries and has become an essential aspect of the island’s unique way of life, art, religion and cultural identity.

The history of rice cultivation in Bali can be traced back to the 9th century when rice was first introduced to the island by Indian traders. Over time, the Balinese have developed their unique methods of rice cultivation, which are deeply influenced by their spiritual beliefs.

The Balinese believe that rice is a gift from the gods and that every stage of its cultivation, from planting to harvesting, is a sacred ritual and needs to be recognised as such.

Rice cultivation in Bali follows a complex cycle that is in harmony and balance with the natural world. Planting begins with the rainy season, which typically starts in October and lasts until April. It’s during this time, the fields are flooded with water, and rice seeds are planted. The growing season lasts for approximately three months, during which time the rice plants are carefully tended, and the fields are constantly irrigated. The harvesting season takes place between May and August, and the rice is then stored and distributed among the community.

Bali’s culture of rice is so unique that it has been recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site. The rice terraces of Bali, particularly in the regions of Jatiluwih and Tegallalang, are considered some of the most beautiful and culturally significant agricultural landscapes in the world. These rice terraces are not only a source of food and income for the Balinese people, but they are also a source of spiritual inspiration and pride.

The Subak irrigation system is an essential aspect of Bali’s culture of rice. The Subak system is a traditional form of irrigation that has been in use in Bali for over a thousand years. It’s a complex system of canals, weirs, and water temples that regulates the flow of water to the rice fields in a cooperative and harmonious water management system reflecting the traditional philosophical concept of Tri Hita Karana, which roughly translated means three causes of well-being; harmony with god, harmony among people and harmony with nature.

Religion is also an essential aspect of Bali’s culture of rice. The Balinese are primarily Hindu, and their religion is closely linked to the cultivation of rice. The Balinese believe that the goddess Dewi Sri is the protector and provider of rice, and every stage of rice cultivation is accompanied by offerings and prayers to her.

Rice is also used in numerous religious ceremonies, including weddings, funerals, and temple offerings. The Balinese believe that by treating rice with respect and reverence, they can ensure that their harvest will be bountiful and that their community will prosper.

So, next time you’re driving through Bali’s lush green landscape, spare a thought for the farmers who tirelessly cultivate the terraced rice fields to not only feed their communities, but also by doing so, they keep ancient traditions and the island’s unique culture alive.

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Andrzej Barski

Director of Seven Stones Indonesia

Andrzej is Co-owner/ Founder and Director of Seven Stones Indonesia. He was born in the UK to Polish parents and has been living in Indonesia for more than 33-years. He is a skilled writer, trainer and marketer with a deep understanding of Indonesia and its many cultures after spending many years travelling across the archipelago from North Sumatra to Irian Jaya.

His experience covers Marketing, Branding, Advertising, Publishing, Real Estate and Training for 5-Star Hotels and Resorts in Bali and Jakarta, which has given him a passion for the customer experience. He’s a published author and a regular contributor to local and regional publications. His interests include conservation, eco-conscious initiatives, spirituality and motorcycles. Andrzej speaks English and Indonesian.

Terje H. Nilsen

Director of Seven Stones Indonesia

Terje is from Norway and has been living in Indonesia for over 20-years. He first came to Indonesia as a child and after earning his degree in Business Administration from the University of Agder in Norway, he moved to Indonesia in 1993, where he has worked in leading positions in education and the fitness/ wellness industries all over Indonesia including Jakarta, Banjarmasin, Medan and Bali.

He was Co-owner and CEO of the Paradise Property Group for 10-years and led the company to great success. He is now Co-owner/ Founder and Director of Seven Stones Indonesia offering market entry services for foreign investors, legal advice, sourcing of investments and in particular real estate investments. He has a soft spot for eco-friendly and socially sustainable projects and investments, while his personal business strengths are in property law, tourism trends, macroeconomics, Indonesian government and regulations. His personal interests are in sport, adventure, history and spiritual experiences.

Terje’s leadership, drive and knowledge are recognised across many industries and his unrivalled network of high level contacts in government and business spans the globe. He believes you do good and do well but always in that order. Terje speaks English, Indonesian and Norwegian.

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Ridwan Jasin Zachrie

CFO of Seven Stones Indonesia, Jakarta

Ridwan is one of Indonesia’s top executives with a long and illustrious career in the financial world. He holds several professional certifications including being a Certified Business Valuer (CBV) issued by the Australian Academy of Finance and Management; Broker-Dealer Representative (WPPE); and The Directorship Certification for Directors and Commissioners, issued by the Indonesian Institute of Commissioners and Directors.

His experience includes being the Managing Director at one of the top investment banking groups in the region, the Recapital Group, the CFO at State-owned enterprises in fishery industry and the CEO at Tanri Abeng & Son Holding. He’s also been an Independent Commissioner in several Financial Service companies and on the Audit and Risk Committee at Bank BTPN Tbk, Berau Coal Energy Tbk, Aetra Air Jakarta as well as working for Citibank, Bank Mandiri and HSBC. His last position was as CFO at PT Citra Putra Mandiri – OSO Group.

Ridwan has won a number of prestigious awards including the Best CFO Awards 2019 (Institute of Certified Management Accountant Australia-Indonesia); Asia Pacific Young Business Leader awarded by Asia 21 Network New York USA (Tokyo 2008); UK Alumni Business Awards 2008 awarded by the British Council; and The Most Inspiring Human Resources Practitioners’ version of Human Capital Magazine 2010.

He’s a member of the Board of Trustees of the Alumni Association of the Faculty of Law, Trisakti University, Co-Founder of the Paramadina Public Policy Institute and actively writes books, publications and articles in the mass media. He co-authored “Korupsi Mengorupsi Indonesia” in 2009, which helps those with an interest in understanding governance in Indonesia and the critical issue of corruption. Ridwan speaks Indonesian and English.

Per Fredrik Ecker

Managing Director of Seven Stones Indonesia, Jakarta

Per is the Managing Director of the Seven Stones Indonesia (SSI) Jakarta office and has more than 25-years’ experience in Indonesia, China, and Western Europe. He previously worked in senior management positions with Q-Free ASA, Siemens AG, and other companies in the telecom sector. Over the last six years, he has been the Chairman of the Indonesia-Norway Business Council (INBC) and recently become elected to be on the board of EuroCham Indonesia.

His most recent experience is within Intelligent Transport Solutions (ITS), Telecom, and other sectors within the Indonesian market. He is today through his position in SSI and by representing Norway Connect, promoting Nordic and European companies that would like to explore business opportunities in the Indonesian market. He’s also playing an active role to help create the Nordic House concept in Jakarta that will provide an excellent platform for Nordic companies entering Indonesia, where they’ll find a community that can offer support with trusted information and affordable services to enter this market.