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Page 5

My Friend

Wayan Made Nyoman Ketut

when speaking of gender

what prefix is put?

Ni is for females

Ida for men

it is so useful to know

what to use when.

in this land of volcanoes

adat always decrees

how the naming of children

in Bali will be.

Wayan Made Nyoman Ketut

which merely are numbers

one through to four

don’t worry though

if you can’t comprehend

say teman to all

call everyone friend


In Bali the caste system is not rigorously applied as in India, and there is a definite tend to democratise the Bali of today. However, distinctions based on caste still persist, the majority of Balinese (ninety to ninety five percent of the population) are outside the caste system, and are non- caste (Wong Kesamen).

The remaining population belong to the aristocracy or gentry (Wongmenak/singih) and belong to the triwangsa. The triwangsa consists of three main groups: The Brahmana (Brahmins in India) or priestly caste bear titles of Ida Bagus (males) and Ida Ayu (females). The Ksatria are members of the nobility and royal families. The form of address used is Ratu, Anak Agung, Cokorda, I Gusti or Sayu, and Ni Gusti is the female equivalent. The Waisa (Weisa) are the merchants and military class. They are addressed as Gusti (males) and Si Luh (females).

Traditionally, the Brahmana are said to have proceeded from the mouth of Brahma, the Ksatria from his arms and the Waisa from his feet. The term Caturwangsa is used to denote the triwangsa (Wong Dalem).

Children of the Wong Jaba or Sudra (sometimes referred to as outsiders by the aristocracy) are named Wayan, Made, Nyoman and Ketut. If there are more than four children the same titles are repeated. Often these titles are preceded by I (Ida) for boys and Ni for girls. For people of the triwangsa (aristocracy) the first child usually has the title of Putu or Gede. The title Ngurah may also be used to indicate purity of descent for people of caste.

Bahasa Bali is essentially a spoken language; dictionaries and Grammars are still a rarity in Bali although there are some written records. Traditional language rules that once were observed irrespective of age position or sex (and were inflexible) are now becoming less pronounced and less rigorously applied.

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