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Balinese Names Explained
Exploring Bali
Balinese Names Explained
Monday, March 20, 2017

Balinese Name

Spending couples of weeks on your holiday in Bali, you will meet new friends and plenty of friendly locals. As the first thing, you will probably notice when you meet local is start chatting and sharing to the locals, and it seems everyone share with the same name; Wayan, Made, Nyoman or Ketut (these names you will hear for both men and women). This might be unfamiliar for you at the first time as Balinese culture unlike other cultures that use their family names, and will give you the difficulties to determine one Wayan to another. Even this might be hard at the first, but Bali has a naming system for Balinese to help you place people in their family and society.

Here's how it works:

Every Balinese child is simply named by his or her order of birth. The first born (boy or girl) is Wayan. The second born is Made (pronounced ma day). The third child goes by Nyoman and the fourth is named Ketut. If a family has more than four children, the cycle repeats itself, and the next ‘Wayan’ may be called "Wayan Balik", which loosely translates to ‘another Wayan' in the family.

It looks easy, right? But you might think you hear other names beside from those names i.e. Agung, Ngurah, Tjokorda (pronounced Co Kor Da), Dewa and so on. These names are given by their castle or clan. For example, people from the Wesya (aristocratic) caste might be named Gusti, Dewa or Desak, people from the Ksatria (kings and warriors) caste are often called Ngurah, Anak Agung or Tjokorda, and people from the highest priestly caste, the Brahmana, are often named Ida Bagus for men or Ida Ayu for women. Jero indicates that a person, usually a woman, has married into a higher caste.


However, you might meet with other people with the names that do not fit into any of these categories. This probably because they go by their nickname. The unique thing in giving a nickname to Balinese, it can be given by physical attributes such as Wayan Berag (thin Wayan) or perhaps something aritrary such as Wayan John and so on but most of Balinese give their children a name that has a good and positive meaning based on Hindu religion. Examples "Setiawan" that has meaning for "faithful" or "Dewi" (goddess) and sometimes Balinese people use this name or shortern name to create their nick name, for example Widi might be a shortening of Widiadnyana, Wira might be short for Wirawan.

Still confused? It will be confusing for the first time and it takes some time to understand it but once you do, it is easy to determine where a person stands in her or his family and the caste or clan system. Enjoy your holiday in Bali island to the fullest with 





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