Jun 17, 2007

Why There Is No Dining Room in A Bali House?

A house in Bali has no dining room. Why is that? Where do they eat? Those are the questions in your mind. Before we talk about it, we need to see how a Bali house is built.

The house in Bali is built based on a concept of "mountain-ocean" line. The lay out of the building must follow the idea or believe that the direction toward the mountain is sacred but the direction toward the sea is less sacred. The mountain is considered sacred because it is the highest point or closest part to the heaven. Meaning that the higher the place, the more sacred it is. This is the reason why the sacred building, such as family temple, is located somewhere in the northern part of the house for people who live south of the mountains. Less sacred part, like kitchen and toilet, is in the direction toward the sea.

For Balinese who live in south Bali, south of the mountains, the house will consist of: building for the parents and family temple which is located in the north. Special building for ceremony like birthday (oton) or tooth filling called Bale Dangin is located in the east (also considered sacred building since it is in the direction of the sun rise). For Balinese who live in the north Bali, the family temple and the "room" for parents is in the south section because south is toward the mountain hence it is sacred. This is to the opposite of the idea of the direction in the southern part of Bali island.

Kitchen and toilet or clothes line is placed in the part furthest from the mountain direction. (Balinese would never walk under a clothes line because it is spiritually dirty ;-)). The west part is usually a building where guest or children is placed there.

The dining room does not present because Balinese don’t usually eat together or eating is not a social activity.We eat where ever is acceptable, for example in the kitchen or in the living room. Children usually eat while watching TV in the family room in the west building. And, we don’t talk when we eat. Bad luck, our grand parents said. You don’t look nice either, I think.

As you may have realized the house according to Bali tradition is not a single building. Rather it is a compound where there are buildings for different functions. So, can you imagine, for example, during the rainy season at night, you wake up at night and want to go to the toilet. Well, first you need an umbrella, because the toilet is in another building or you will get wet :-(.

The concept, the layout and the building style are adapted into modern hotel, or villas. If you travel to Bali, you can observe the hotel or villa you stay has the Balinese style. But don’t worry, this has been modified so there is no trouble for you to go to the toilet during the rainy season.

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