Bali Caste

In the 14th century, when Gaja Mada and the Javanese nobles of The Majapahit empire arrive in Bali, they brought with them a Javanese version of the Hindu caste system.

The Brahmana were the priestly caste, the Satrya, the warrior king; and the Wesya, the merchants; and the last is Sudra or Jaba.

The caste system is deeply embedded in the Balinese psyche, and while legally, discrimination by caste is forbidden, the system is inextricably bound to the Balinese identity. In fact, in new encounters a name betrays caste.

Naming

Traditionally, there are no family names; rather people's names reflect their caste as well as their order of birth.

The Brahmana are called Ida Bagus and Ida Ayu for males and females, respectively; Satrya are named Cokorde, Anak Agung, for men; and Anak Agung Istri and Dewa Ayu for women. Wesya are named I Gusti for men; and I Gusti Ayu for women. The Sudra are simply I for men and Ni for women.

To signify order of birth, Brahmana and Satrya may be called Putu, Raka, or Kompiang, for the firstborn; Rai for the second; Oka for the third and Alit for the fourth. Sudra children are named Wayan, Made, Nyoman and Ketut, repeating the order for the fifth child. Children also have their own special name.

To complicate matters, names may change. When parents have a new child, names may change to reflect the new addition, so that they become "mother of", or "grandfather of".

The Family

Distinction according to sex is more stringent than according to class. In the village limits, women and men have separate tasks. Only men make handicrafts, tend cattle, cook meat and cultivate the fields; whereas women do the housework, look after the pigs and chickens, cook vegetables and rice, and prepare offerings to the gods. The exception being that everyone helps with the harvesting of rice. Nonetheless, women are encouraged to participate in income earning activities and may dispose of their independent salaries as they desire.

The men are employed to build Balinese style constructions, but women and girls will be encountered, with huge stone and cement slabs balanced on their heads, walking to Western style building sites. While women carry their wares on their heads, men carry their loads on poles balanced on their shoulders maybe that's why the Balinese are so elegantly postured.

Today, women have the same opportunities for education as their male counterparts and are entering the professions. In fact, there's a government department in Denpasar established to lift the status of women. Although women are expected to five with their husband's family, if she should divorce (which is rare) she must leave the children and return to her own family. But during menstruation women are separated from other family members, often sleeping in a different compound. During this time they are forbidden to enter temples this is because it is sacrilege for blood to be spilt on hallowed ground