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Balinese names, sacred and special


Shakespeare has said, what is the name? It is not happened for Balinese. In Bali, name is everything. Balinese tradition believes that name can determine the destiny. Therefore, in Bali there is a proverb “gajah mati meninggalkan gading, manusia mati meninggalkan nama” (elepant dies leaving tusk, human passed away remaining name).  A meaningful sentence that explained the name is very important. Being it is so important, in Bali giving name to be sacred and special.

As the main religion, Hindu has influence Balinese name strongly. In Bali, there are two things, which determine the Balinese names, those are color and birth order.

Name based on color

Color is society classification based on their profession or function. In Veda this classification is called Catur warna. Unfortunately this classification goes on hereditary although it is not match with their profession.

  1. Brahmana is person who master about religion and has profession as Saint or ritual ceremony leader. Commonly their title is Ida Bagus for man and Ida Ayu for woman.
  2. Ksatrya is person who has profession as public servant, soldier or statesman. In general their title is I Dewa, I Gusti or Anak Agung.
  3. Wasya is person who has profession as economist or trader. Their name will begins with “I” for man and “Ni” for woman
  4. Sudra is the last, classified the person who has profession as labor. Mostly their name is same with wasya.


Birth Order

Naming based on birth order is used by all color. There are four names of birth order,

  1. The first will be given name: Putu or Gede, or Wayan (only for Wasya and Sudra)
  2. The second order is made or kadek
  3. The third order is Nyoman or Komang
  4. The last is Ketut.

If a family has more than four children, the naming will back start from the first order. In conclusions in Bali, the naming actually consists of three parts. The first is the color, the second is the birth order and the last is extra name or real name. Habitually the last or real name is hope or what will the child become in future. For example:

  • Ida Bagus Gede Wacika : color is Brahmana, birth order is first and real name is Wacika, derived from Sanskrit or taken from Veda means good speech or remark.
  • Dewa Nyoman Wisnu : color is Ksatrya, birth order is third and real name is Wisnu means God of custodian
  • I Ketut widya : color is Sudra or Wasya, a man, and real name is Widya derived from Sanskrit means knowledge

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