Intercultural Communication Short Course Excursion: A Visit to LK Suryani Institute for Mental Health
Navigating Gender Dynamics: Balinese Children, SUPUTRA, and the MANYING Phenomenon
In the second week of upskill’s Intercultural Communication summer course, we had the opportunity to visit the Suryani Institute for Mental Health, an organization that focuses on providing mental health services, research, and education. Led by Dr. Luh Ketut Suryani, the institute aims to address mental health issues in Bali and Indonesia through a combination of clinical services, community outreach, and research initiatives.
During the visit, we try to explore the sociology of gender within the context of Balinese children and the compelling concept of "SUPUTRA." Among the attendees were luminaries such as Professor Luh Ketut Suryani, an esteemed figure in psychiatry and former head of the Psychiatry Department at Udayana University, and Dr. Cokorda Bagus Jaya Lesmana, a respected psychiatrist at Manuaba Hospital in Denpasar and an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Medicine, Udayana University. Their insights, combined with the perspectives of other participants including David Dalsky, Ph.D, and academic experts from diverse fields, painted a comprehensive picture of the intricate interplay between cultural practices, gender norms, and family dynamics within Balinese society.
Gathering of Minds
At the forefront of this symposium was Professor Luh Ketut Suryani, a distinguished scholar in the field of psychiatry and a former head of the Psychiatry Department at Udayana University. With her wealth of experience, she provided a robust foundation for the discussions, guiding the exploration of Balinese culture's impact on the psychology of its children and families. Dr. Cokorda Bagus Jaya Lesmana, a renowned psychiatrist at Manuaba Hospital, contributed invaluable insights into the psychological dimensions of the topics under consideration. His dual role as a practitioner and academic added depth to the conversations, shedding light on how societal expectations intertwine with mental health.
Participating in the discourse was our short course participant, David Dalsky, Ph.D, an expert who brought an outsider's perspective to the table. His cross-cultural insights highlighted the importance of understanding Balinese concepts like SUPUTRA and Manying within a broader global context. Nazrina Zuryani, a lecturer from the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences (FISIP), added an academic dimension, connecting sociological theories to the lived experiences of Balinese children.
Additionally, representatives from the Upskill team lent their expertise, amplifying the scope of the conversations to encompass contemporary education and skill development.
Exploring SUPUTRA and MANYING
The discussions gravitated towards the concept of SUPUTRA—a symbol of parental aspirations for male progeny within Balinese culture. This preference, intricately linked to practices like NGABEN, opened a window into the complex interplay between cultural norms and gender dynamics. The symposium also delved into the MANYING phenomenon, a Balinese approach to child-rearing where children are nurtured with constant attention, impacting their psychological development and connection to spiritual beliefs.
The concept of MANYING encapsulates the societal pressure placed on parents to bear male children. It embodies the notion of fulfilling traditional obligations, such as NGABEN, which is believed to enable the deceased's soul to attain spiritual liberation. MANYING underscores how gendered expectations intertwine with cultural practices, influencing family decisions and individual choices.
Balinese parents often raise their children as MANYING, believing that by doing so, they can facilitate their spiritual journey towards "Moksa," a state of liberation. This intersection of Manying and religious beliefs underscores the intricate connection between cultural practices, gender norms, and spiritual aspirations within Balinese society.
The symposium's rich dialogue, guided by the expertise of luminaries such as Professor Luh Ketut Suryani and Dr. Cokorda Bagus Jaya Lesmana, and enriched by the insights of participants like David Dalsky, Upskill team and the academic team from Udayana University, underscores the importance of cross-disciplinary collaboration and cross-cultural understanding. By exploring the sociology of gender in the context of Balinese children and unpacking concepts like SUPUTRA and MANYING, the symposium offered a profound glimpse into the intricate weave of Balinese culture, tradition, and psychology.
By Billy Bagus