3 Bali Traditional attractions: Omed2an, Mekotek, Barong Bangkong

Bali is not just about sand and sea, diving and surfing or beers & dj’s music in club houses. There many traditional attractions, either religious or festive related that will satisfy your love toward art & tradition.

Beside the famous Rama & Shinta or Kecak Dance, these three below are worth your watch and will give you more deeper understanding about Bali’s culture & tradition.

Omed-Omedan, The Kissing Ritual

The ritual that is held after Nyepi or The Day of Silence, has been around in Bali for almost a hundred years, since the Dutch colonial era and is also known as ‘The Kissing Ritual’.  This ceremony is carried out by the youngsters of Banjar Kaja Sesetan, Denpasar in Bali and the name was derived from Balinese language ‘omed’ which means ‘pull’.

So people doing omed-omed means people pull each other. It aims in strengthen the brotherhood of the people of the village especially the youngsters who went to continue school or work outside the Island.

Originally only the youngsters of this Banjar Kaja Sesetan village could participate and what made it more interesting is, it originates from a fight between a male and female pigs representing the process of pulling and pushing negative and positive elements.

Also, it is not clear when mass kissing was incorporated into the tradition, but since it has been held as a ceremony for the youth of the villages to express their joy on the first day of their new year. However, kissing on lips is strictly banned because it is considered exessive.

The story begins with the illness of the King of the Pura Oka Sesetan. Many doctors, or high priests at those old days, had tried their best to treat the King’s ilnness but there were not any result.

As usual, after Nyepi residents around the kingdom held the Omed-Omedan and when they became enthusiastically noisy the king who was seriously ill become furious and disturbed. He then stumbled out only to see his citizens embracing each other with laughter and happiness. Within minutes the king felt that his pain and illness were healed and got his health back. From then on the king issued a decree that the Omed-Omed tradition to be carried out  as a routin ceremony after Nyepi. There was a time though in the Dutch colonial era when the ritual ceremony was banned but with hard efforts from the king and his citizens, Omed-Omed was held back until up now.

This unique ceremony involves youngsters between ages of 17 to 30 years old. The ritual begins with praying together to seek safety throughout the ceremony being held. After the prayers had done, the men and women separate into groups then standing face each other on main streets.

With a signal lead form a Hindu priest, both sides approach to the center of the road. The male participants then pull and kiss the female participants while other villagers pour buckets of water over them. This Omed-Omed ceremony has become a meeting place for singles and many couples have met through this tradition.

Omed-Omed nowadays has become a special festive attraction for travelers and is even made into annual Omed-Omedan Cultural Heritage Festival. It is also enlivened by people’s bazaar market and music or dancing stage performances.

Mekotek, Tradition of Stick Fighting

Another unique ceremony from the Balinese Culture. During Kuningan Day in Bali, prayers and offerings take place all over this stunning Indonesian Island and it is in Munggu village, a small hamlet which is well known for diligently to keep Balinese tradition alive and conserve Balinese culture, they have the Mekotek Tradition of Stick Fighting.

This unique and unusual Bali ritual occurs in solely in Munggu village during Kuningan Day. As quoted from the official website of the Badung Regency Government, the Mekotek is carried out on Kuningan Day, every 6 months or 210 days based on the Balinese Saka/Hindu calendar. It is a great time to experience real Balinese culture.  A time to witness authentic Bali colorful, authentic, unique, interesting fun and so culturally rich tradition.  Mekotek is a new tourists attraction in Bali.

History records, Mekotek was originally a tradition of the Kingdom of Mengwi, one of the kingdoms in the Island of the Gods Bali. Mekotek also known as Ngerebeg or Mekotekan actually started in 1934 in the village of Munggu and real spears were used at the time unlike the blunt ended wooden sticks that are used at present.

It was in 1940 when these wooden sticks made of Pulet wood came into use in part due to the colonial Dutch being afraid of an uprising and having real, more dangerous spears used against them. Had been stopped by the Dutch colonial government, Mekotek was revived as a ritual or a ceremony to reject disasters due to an outbreak of a disease. It is attended by approximately 2000 participants which are all men ages from 12 to 60 years old. All participants carry wooden sticks, instead of spears, were devided into groups of 50 participants each. These groups then play the woods, pitted up and form a cone of pyramid.

Gamelan music playing throughout the ritual also adds to the atmosphere with Gamelan musicians following the proceedings along with many spectators and rival supporters. From time to time a stick fighting participant will climb the triangular shaped cone of sticks to issue a battle cry before the two groups clash. It’s a fun event which rarely witnesses any injury or hard feelings amongst opposing forces or supporters and has more of a party atmosphere.

Aside from being a way to preserve Balinese culture, the Mekotek tradition as a tourist attraction is also expected to be a positive activity for young people while increasing the economy of Munggu village residents. And this specific traditional ceremony is fully supported by the Badung Regency Government. “We welcome the Mekotek fragmentary performance in Munggu village. However, we hope that the package of tourist attraction will also maintain the sacredness of the Mekotek culture”, deputy regent of Badung, I Ketut Suustom once said.

Barong Bangkong

As a tradition, the Hindu community in Bali celebrates Galungan and Kuningan by delivering oblations accompanied with art activities where during the feast the barong bangkong or barong bangkal troupe will definitely do ngelawang or street show.

Barong bangkong is a large enough and old pig considered a mythical animal having a mystical power. Attires of the barong are made of black and white velvet. However, in general, the attires are not pretentious like that of other types of barong.

In every show, the barong bangkong is also equipped with trinkets of ate leaves and the dancers are wearing checkered trousers and rattles tied on legs, so that when moving they will generate rattling sound. Barong bangkong is carried by two dancers and the performances are held in the streets and around the village.

In every show, the barong bangkung is also equipped with trinkets of ate leaves and the dancers are wearing checkered trousers and rattles tied on legs, so that when moving they will generate rattling sound. Barong bangkal is carried by two dancers and the performances are held in the streets and around the village.

With the presence of barong show, villagers will feel they have been protected by deities marked by the arrival of barong bangkal or barong bangkung. The show is accompanied with batel bebarongan gamelan music consisting of drums, tawa-tawa, kelenang, kelenong, cymbals and kempur.

The word ngelawang is derived from the word lawang meaning ‘door,’ a term in the Balinese language that means a gallivanting show from one house to another or from one village to another. This gallivanting show with diverse Balinese artistic traditions is performed by art troupe.

This tradition means to expel evil spirits and protects population from any plagues or diseases caused by evil spirits (bhuta kala). When performing ngelawang, homeowners will usually offer an oblation with sesari (money).

Ngelawang tradition inherited from generation to generation means to neutralize the universe, reject all kinds of diseases interfering with human life, including psychically driving away those having evil intention.

By and large, this street show is performed five days before Galungan to the celebration of Kuningan. In the 1970s, the nomadic art crystallized into art event that jazzed up the Galungan. In recent years, this art tends to go extinct in line with the changing of times, so that it is difficult to find this kind of performance.

Barong Bangkong and Ngelawang are considered sacred dances in Bali. The Ngelawang tradition is not held only during Galungan & Kuningan but also in certain days that are deemed necessary to drive out plagues so they perform the Barong Bangkong. However, not all places and villages in Bali have the Ngelawang tradition & Barong Bangkong, only in few places that have the cultural heritage. The procedures to carry out the ceremony sometimes have different implementation but same essence in goals.

Ngelawang does not only pose an attractive art show, but also contains positive values. In addition to preserving local culture, it also serves as a medium of creativity to sharpen educational values, norms, ethics and moral.

They do this art activity in togetherness while making others happy through entertainment. Ngelawang is carried out with joy, so that the interaction among them serves as a form of character education and cultivation of artistic values as well as has the meaning of socialization.

 

So what are you waiting for, come to Bali and enjoy different atmosphere by watching all those cultural traditional Bali ritual performances!

 

 

 

 

 

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