Christians of Palasari – a historical perspective
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This is truly the island of the gods for even though Hinduism is the dominant religion (93.5% approx) other faiths exist in pockets across Bali. In the West of Bali there are a number of mosques along the coast and if one turns off the road and heads into the hills that border the National Park one will come across a small community of Balinese Catholics in an area called Palasari in Melaya sub district, about 90 km from Denpasar (the largest town and seat of the Governor of Bali).
In the centre of the settlement of over 1,300 Balinese Catholics is a big church with many spires amidst mango trees, vanilla, coconut, coffee, cocoa, nutmeg and rice fields. It is a thriving village that has often been referred to by many as a possible role model for the rest of Bali.
So how did Christianity get a foothold on the island? How has it survived the onslaught of historical factors like colonisation and political upheavals to build a seamless bridge between its flock and the predominantly devout Balinese Hindus – whose way of life is an endless stream of devotion to their pantheon of Gods and Goddesses? The answer to this probably lies in the psyche of the Balinese and their acceptance of all things spiritual.
This brief historical account of the Balinese Christians and the priests that led the flock, throws light on hitherto little known facts about this isle and its vibrant ethos.