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How Covid-19 affect Balinese Culture and Society

The number of positive cases of COVID-19 worldwide, until Saturday, April 4th, 2020 reached 1,099,389 people.

Behind this number, there were 226,106 patients recovered. While as many as 58,901 Corona patients in various countries have died. These data from Johns Hopkins CSSE as of Saturday, April 4th, 2020 said, the highest number of citizens died in Italy, which was 14,681 people.

Then Spain ranks second most cases of death with 11,198, followed by France with 6,507 deaths. While the United States (US) is the country with the highest number of positive COVID-19, about 277,953 cases reported, then Italy with 119,827 cases, Spain 119,119 cases, Germany with 91,159 cases, and China as many as 82,518 cases.

The Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the COVID-19 pandemic showed the weaknesses and gaps in the health systems of many countries. Corona virus also shows the unpreparedness of the world to face a pandemic.

Therefore, Tedros mentioned all countries to seriously prepare a health system that is capable of handling many Covid-19 cases, while maintaining other important services, and also to provide social safety nets to help vulnerable groups meet their basic needs, especially food, during a pandemic.

In Indonesia, the number of positive cases of COVID-19 has reached 1,986 people, as released by the Task Force for the Handling of COVID-19 until Saturday, April 4th, 2020. While the number of people recovered increased from 134 to 150. The spread of COVID-19 in Indonesia has entered its second month. During the month from March 2 to April 2 2020, there were 1,790 cases with 112 cases recovered and 170 cases died. Corona cases continue to increase every day, where there are approximately 100 additional cases. Corona cases are spread in 32 provinces in Indonesia.

As for Bali, The Task Force for the Handling of COVID-19 announced a recent case related to the number of patient’s due to the corona virus. Until Wednesday (1/4), there were nine people died. On the other hand, it is said that there were as many as 10 patients who were declared cured and allowed to return to their homes. Thus, the recovery of 10 people consisted of two foreigners and eight Indonesian citizens.

On the other side, beside talking about data… This pandemic of Corona virus is surely brought a huge impact to the Balinese society. As we know, Bali is popularly known as one of the best destination to travel.

Due to this physical distancing method in order to stop the virus spreading, the prohibition of travelling is taken seriously. While in the economic side is suffered, like the most of countries, the cultural, tradition, and spiritual aspect is also affected. The tourism, which is the main part of source income in Bali has been tremendously degrading. Some hotels, and some shops were temporarily closed.

Bali is popular for their many kinds of ceremony, whether it is big ceremony like Ngaben, Galungan, or small like Full Moon, they’ve always celebrated it in splendour, which definitely there are many people involved.

But not anymore. Everyone is warned to be just stay at home. Even the wedding ceremony, many of them is cancelled because it is forbidden to have many people gather in one place. Even the tradition of ogoh-ogoh parade as is always done every year, has always been an event that is awaited by all people in Bali. This year’s ogoh-ogoh parade was abolished after Bali’s Governor I Wayan Koster issued a ban on instructions.

Ever since this cancellation of Tawur Agung Kesanga, the great event which is always held to celebrate Nyepi, the Parisadha Hindu Dharma Indonesia (PHDI) Bali as a main organization for Hindus in Indonesia and the Bali Traditional Village Council issued a joint decision or letter of decree regarding the provisions of the implementation and adjustment of the “Panca Yadnya” ceremony and traditional activities in the Covid-19 pandemic status in Bali. Another example of adjustment is happened to Omed-omedan, a Denpasar’s traditional ritual which is usually done the day after Nyepi.

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Omed-omedan is a mass wet-kissing procession among teenagers in this village. Indigenous people believe this ritual is done to prevent catastrophe. During the festivities, there is also a public market and entertainment stage. But it was cancelled, for the reason to stop the spread of virus.

Every district or village had to make an adjustment to this regulation made by the local government of Bali. For example, in Batuan Village, Sukawati District, the village expressly issued a decree to limit wedding and Ngaben ceremony. There are 7 points decided. Among other things, the implementation of activities or celebrations in any form involving more than 25 people at one time and one place must be postponed to an undetermined deadline.

Second, the implementation of Panca Yadnya (means ceremony) which involves more than 25 people must be postponed or if forced to do so, it should not be more than 25 people.

Third, special ceremonies for abolition in the Batuan Village area should be postponed, at least until the situation improves.

Fourth, if there are residents of Batuan Village who have died during this decision have not been revoked, so they can be buried with an implementation that is only attended by a maximum of 25 people.

Fifth, specifically for the wedding ceremony or manusa yadnya to be postponed. Or if there is any urgent reason, it is only attend by the head of village, the priest, and smallest scope of families in both sides, without any wedding party after the ceremony.

Since the situation is still unsafe or under control, what we can do is only make an adjustment. Believe that it is not only for us, but also for everybody. Keep being healthy by stay at home, washing those hands, eat healthy food like vegetables and fresh water to make your immune strong as it is your main weapon to defeat this virus. We all hope that this situation will getting better, even if its slowly. Stay safe, folks!