How Do Balinese Parents Choose Their Children’s Names?

In the West, parents will often select their children's names based on the meaning of the name or in remembrance of another family member. In other parts of the world, it doesn't always work this way. For example, Balinese parents choose their children's names based on the birth order. There are essentially four names in Bali based on the order in which a child was born. The firstborn is Wayan, second is Made, third is Nyoman and the fourth child is named Ketut.

These names are given regardless of whether the child is male or female. Gender is expressed with the prefix "I" for "Mr." and "Ni" for "Ms." And if a family has more than four children, the names repeat themselves with the addition of "Balik," meaning "another." So a fifth child is named Wayan Balik, meaning "Another Wayan."

However, there are exceptions to the rule. Members of specific castes or prominent families may have different names denoting their high social status. People with certain occupations, such as blacksmiths, receive distinctive names. And many Balinese adopt nicknames aside from their birth names. These nicknames may describe a physical attribute of the person, or may be a Sanskrit name of religious significance.

This traditional naming system is practical and purposeful for the Balinese. When introduced to someone for the first time, Balinese are able to understand the background of the individual, as well as his or her position in society.

More about Bali:

  • Bali is an Indonesian island with a population of about four million.
  • Originally colonized by the Dutch and occupied by the Japanese during World War II, Bali attained independence in 1949.
  • Bali is home to the most expensive coffee in the world, which is made from coffee beans that have been partially digested by the civet cat.
More Info: The Bali Times

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