The Balinese Surf Culture has opened the door for many locals, while it provides income for a lot of families here, religion also plays a vital role. It begins when a Hindu baby is born, its spirits still belong to the divine and are taken care of 108 spirits. Babies are considered too holy to touch the earth and are kept in a clay playpen until they turn 3 months old. This is when they are introduced to the ocean (sometimes a river) for the first time. This introduction is just one of three ceremonies where the baby is honored after 105-210 days from birth.
The ceremony is kind of a coming into the world for the baby. It is believed that a new-born is the reincarnation of one of its ancestors. When a Hindu dies, the body is burned and once its soul leaves and the ashes are taken to the ocean where life first began, the spirit of the dead is then looked after by Baruna. The God of the Sea will take care of the spirit until all the ceremonies following the death are done. The Balinese people have always had a connection with the ocean.
The start of Balinese surf culture
The ocean is present throughout their entire life, from the beginning to the end. The Balinese respect the ocean, and most are even scared of it. Traditionally the ocean was a dangerous zone, mysterious and unknown. In between the birth and the death of every Balinese man, woman, or a child you will rarely see them swimming in the sea, let alone surfing. After all, this is where all the sea hosts, devils, and ogres live. So who was brave enough to ignore these beliefs and test the waters out first? An American Bule from Hollywood, California named Bob Koke
Arriving in the mid-1930s with a hand-carved Hawaiian surfboard in one arm and his wife in the other. They built a hotel on the once secluded beach of Kuta. But when the Japanese started to invade Bali in WWII Bob Koke bailed. Bob and his wife returned shortly after the war only to find the hotel they had built was gone and eventually sold their property in the 1950s. Fast forward 20 years later, surfers started to discover some of the best surfing spots in Bali.
As a direct result of the 1971 surf film ” Morning Of The Earth”. epic surf film directed by Albert Falzon
In this film, they never gave up the locations he filmed in Bali but were still somehow discovered soon after. Now, these beaches now are a zoo. as well as having a new breed of local Indonesian Surfers.
Marlon Gerber pro surfer making the best out of life in Bali
Marlon Gerber fosters his protégé nephew Varun Tanjung in the ways of Indonesian surfing. Varun has a choice, just as Marlon did. Varun follows his uncle of course.
The Indonesian government has not yet acknowledged surfing as a major sport or supported it in any way. But they’re fully aware of the impact it has on its communities, travel industry, and local economy. Today families in Indonesia know that surfing pays the bills, from winning competitions, sponsorships, and even giving Bule’s surf lessons. Local Surfers here dominate the Asian surfing world. There are even four major surf brands that host some of the largest surfing events in the world. Bob Koke would be stoked!
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