Hosted by India, an art competition in Bali encourages students to embrace communal harmony.
With a black marker in her right hand,13-year-old Putu Nadya Sari sketched five people in different costumes on a piece of drawing paper. Then she added colour with oil pastels.
"This is about the colourful communities of the world. This is an African, this is a Balinese, an Indian, Chinese and the last one is Japanese," Sari said. "All people with different ethnic backgrounds should keep the harmony."
Sari was one of 28 students from junior and senior high schools on Bali that participated in the competition "Harmony among Communities in Plural Societies" hosted by the Indian Cultural Centre in Denpasar, Bali on September 12th.
Made Wianta, a famous Balinese artist who was one of the judges of the competition, was impressed with the students' creativity and ability to deliver their ideas through art.
"Their paintings are awesome. All of the students expressed how harmony is working in Bali," Wianta said. "It is proven that art work can play an important role in promoting harmony between all people from different communities. This kind of competition is a simple way to campaign for harmony and togetherness."
Added Wianta: "Bali is now more open, more pluralistic, and the challenge to maintain harmony becomes harder. Arts could be used as a tool to strengthen harmony."
About 81% of Bali residents are Hindu, 10% are Muslim, 3% are Catholic, 3% are Protestant, 2% are Buddhist and 1% are Kong Hu Cu. The island's population has become more diverse as people from around Indonesia have come to work in Bali's rapidly developing tourism industry.
Wianta emphasised that harmony is necessary in a multicultural place like Bali. "When a Hindu can paint a beautiful mosque, or a Muslim can paint a beautiful temple, it is really a beautiful harmony," he said.
Indian Consul- General Amarjeet Singh Takhi explained that the theme of the competition was chosen as a way to cultivate tolerance among emerging leaders.
"We thought we should do it through students who will be leaders tomorrow and who will help society create harmony among different people. That is the main purpose of the competition," he said.
"Whatever their religion is, it doesn't mean that you differ with them. Why should we be different? We differ only when we think that our religion is primary and it is better than their religion, and our way of living is better than their way of living. That has to go. There has to be tolerance for other religions," Takhi said.
He further said the Balinese principle of Tri Hita Karana should be followed by people all over the world.
"(It) says that there has to be harmony with God, harmony with the environment, and most important of all, harmony between human beings," Takhi said. "In Bali, tolerance is working with the Tri Hita Karana principle. We see harmony everywhere in Bali, in India, and certain parts of Indonesia, even if there is a lot of intolerance among people because their beliefs are so hard, so difficult to change."