Home Institution

Bates College

Publication Date

Spring 2014

Program Name

Indonesia: Arts, Religion, and Social Change


During my independent study period, I spent four weeks with the members of WHDI Province Bali. During this time I was able to participate in their organization’s activities and events in order to gain first hand knowledge about what programs the women are involved in. Some of the events I attended include cultural activities such as seminars about traditional hair and makeup as well as marriage preparation, etiquette discussions, gamelan and traditional singing lessons and religious ceremonies such as weddings, cremations, a mediksa the blessing of new houses and shops and visits to different temples such as Batur temple and Besakih temple. In between activities I was able to interview many of the members who held management positions in WHDI Province Bali. Each interview was done in a casual setting, often during a car ride or at home, trying to fit it into their busy schedules. I was able to see into the lives of some of the women by visiting their homes and workplaces and meeting their families. Each woman opened up about their roles in the organization as well as their personal lives, how they are able to balance all of their roles as Hindu women and what they are passionate about in terms of women’s empowerment and rights and preserving their tradition and culture in Bali.

I went into my independent study period wanting to know more about WHDI, an organization that I had very little knowledge of. I am interested in women’s empowerment and I felt that WHDI Province Bali was a perfect place to spend my time learning about women who truly care about empowering the Hindu woman of Indonesia, particularly those living in Bali. I wanted to gain as much information as I could while attending all of their events and social activities as well as staying at the homes of some of the women. I ended up staying in the home of I Gusti Ayu Bintang Darmawati, the Head of Management of WHDI Province Bali, while visiting other members during my stay. While staying with Ibu Bintang, I was able to capture the everyday life of a Hindu woman in Bali and add these experiences and observations to my studies, seeing first hand how she balances all of her roles in society.

Throughout out my time I was able to develop different focus questions and ideas in order to gain general information about WHDI as well as focus more closely on WHDI Province Bali. I decided to focus my time on WHDI Province Bali because I felt that with the rise in globalism and tourism to be most prominent in Bali, it would be interesting to see how these topics have effected the women’s daily lives and the organization. It is hard to capture the depth of this organization so I tried to focus on certain aspects of WHDI Province Bali. I wanted to know about the activities and events of each department within WHDI including how these activities help the women of Bali as well as other individuals. I was also interested in how WHDI is able to promote a new modern role for Hindu Women while also preserving the culture and traditions of Hindu Women in Indonesia. I asked myself time and time again how they are able to balance all of their roles as mothers, Hindus, wives, workers, and more and have the extra time and energy to care for other women in the WHDI organization and Bali as a whole. During my time answering these questions, I learned how unique the women of WHDI Province Bali truly are and how their differences create many opportunities to spread Hinduism as well as women’s empowerment.


Civic and Community Engagement | Family, Life Course, and Society | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Place and Environment | Tourism


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