Earlier traditional village of Bali
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The Village

Tenganan Village is located in the area of Kabupaten Karangasem, east Bali. If one drives to Candidasa, just 1 km before Candidasa one will see a small asphalted road to the left, this is the road to the village. A village around 70 kms from Denpasar city, encircled by mountain peaks and hills, only to the southern direction the place is open. Their resident is considered the earlier population of Bali who was supposed as the first imigrants to the island.

The village is well known as travel interest due to its unique settlement pattern, tradition and handicraft. Their ritual also still showing the ancient ethnic tradition such as the war dance called perang pandan. So far this kind of battle show has attracted so many tourists, yet the problem is the schedule of this ritual is not regular, it can not be planned as the calendar of event. Only around 3 month before the event one can find out the exact date of the ritual.

The People

Relating to the origin of the village and its people there is myth still alive among the residents. Such myth has the same nature with almost all ethnics or tribe's claim to their ancestor's divine origin. Scientific research at the present stage could give us only at a level of theoretical understanding about the origin of people, and their existence.

Study from linguistic and archaeology suggest that Balinese history has experienced many ethnic events, such as consecutive influx of immigrations from South Asian Peninsula. During early metal age or post Megalithic, Bali has been inhabited by an ethnic of Negritos family or melanesian characteristic. The findings of burial remains support this theory. During agricultural revolution or developed metal age, groups of migrators from South Peninsula started to row their simple boats toward the southern archipelagos. This migration influx continues untilt he Christian era, and each group arrived at a different coastal areas of Indonesia and settle there including Bali.

Outside Influence

Toward the beginning of Christian era migrators in different missions such as trades and ideological missions started to arrive in some coastal settlements of Indonesia. This is especially true for the Hindu, Moslem, and the last is Christian. From 8 to 14 Century ( exactly until 1343 AD ), Bali enjoyed a stable political history. During this period Indian influence as shown by the king's names, and dialect vocabularies have been noticeable.

Between 14 and 16 Century A.D. it can be said that it was the strongest implantation of influences by the last Biggest Hindu Java Majapahit kingdom in Bali. One theory says that those Balinese who did not agree to the new influx of influences than run to the mountain and settle there. Those people are now known as “ Bali Aga “. There are 5 villages in Bali which are classified as this type such as Tenganan, Trunyan, Sembiran, Sidatapa, and Pedawa villages. But based on Bali King's inscription dated back to 882 A.D. it seems that this theory is not supported. Since Trunyan village has already been an autonomy village by that time and Semiran Village has been mentioned by the king in the year of 1100 A.D, so nothing caused residents of Trunyan or Sembiran to run from outside influences, if we relate the influences after 9 centuries onward.

Protected by Nature

Other theory said that Bali Aga villages emerged because of frequent attack from new comers to seize a strategic area or settlement area. This theory is supported by one of the inscription dated back to 9 century now preserved at the village of Sembiran. This village was named Manasa, a sea port near Bukit Tunggal north Bali was, before located on the beach and consisted of 50 families and was attacked by seafarers which caused death of 20 families, and the rest run to the mountain. But still it is a problem as an anthropological research found that this people physically and root-tradition speaking is the same as Torajan ( South Sulawesi ), Minangkabau ( West Sumatera ), Sumbanese, and deep inland Dayak in Borneo those have the same tendency to live deep in the mountain areas and they consider their ancestors' spirits abide the mountain. Whatever the fact is about the origin of this people, we realize that they have a slight different with their neighbors, that they were ever an autonomy organization with their typical social organization and terminologies.

Perang Pandan

Again Perang Pandan is specific to Tenganan village only. The word “ perang pandan “ is a two words noun in Indonesian language, while in Tenganan this war dance is called “ makare-karean “ This event is carried out during the ceremony of the temple called “ Ngusaba “ It is strange because this kind of ceremony is also known by the rest of Balinese, especially those living on lowland with rice irrigation system called “ Ngusaba Nini “ The basic idea of this ceremony is to request a good rice harvest. At lowland area this ceremony is not a regular one, but it is decided by the village elders with ritual leaders in a plenary meeting. While in Tenganan village this is a regular ceremony based on Çaka year calendar and is organized in the village temple. While at lowland areas especially in Kabupaten Gianyar this is conducted for a ceremony called “ Maleladan “ ( a procession along the village main road toward the temple ). It is hard to understand who influenced whom in this case. Seeing from the name of the ceremony it must be an influence of lowland, since the rest of ceremonies and customary organization's terminologies Tenganan is specific, and “ Ngusaba “ is belong to a mid-Balinese vocabulary ( ca. 14 to 16 century A.D.), an era when the Majapahit influence was becoming intensive.
Çaka year is a lunar calendar created 78 years after Christian Era ( 78 Anno Domini ). Since this ceremony is based on Çaka year and Hindu-Java calendar, so it is hardly able to know the exact International Calendar date within which this ceremony will fall. We can only know the exact date around 3 months ahead of the date. While Hindu-Java calendar is consist of 210 days. Balinese use these two systems at the same time, and mixed it up. So you can find a ceremony coming every 210 days, and every 365 days.

Despite the fact that Bali Aga village has their uniqueness, but in common they share almost the same way of thinking. They consider religion, customs, arts, architecture, economy and other cultural aspects as the same entity and are involved in each of their creation and work. For example is the dance. Dance is considered as a ritual requirement, an amusement, and medium of education. While dance can be a performance from any kind of art, such as the idea of woman beauty, the warrior strength, prime minister wisdom, up to the animal behavior which interests the artist to imitate, and translate it into dance. No one doubt that Perang Pandan originally was a war dance or practice of self-defense which is also introduced by the rest of the world's ethnics in its different form and fashion. The only thing in Bali is that almost all dances are considered as the requirement of a ritual.

For makare-karean war dance there is no rule of fighting, except the dance is given more to younger generation. The term “ fighters “ may more appropriate name to designate perang pandan instead of a dancer. The fighters bring in hand sharp edged pandanus leaves, while the other hand holds bamboo or rattan woven body shield to protect the body from the provocation of opponent. One person acts only as a referee. The fight resulted the scratch on the skin by thorny pandanus leaves and caused the bleeding. No one is safe from the scratch of the pandanus leaves after the fighting, the only smaller or wider scratches. After the fighting the ritual leader gives the scratch an oil made from herbal medicine, and spread holy water to the fighters. No heart feeling among fighters, and they all sit together to have meals on banana leaves.

Wrong Information

There are some writing say that this dance is related to the ceremony which is basically a scarification of blood. First of this, I really realize that this assumption might based on the wrong informant and wrong source. As you might have read that religion for Balinese is not a social institution, instead like water flowing to various soil, whenever it flows on red soil the color become red, and on a black soil it become black. So to know the real ideas we have to screen it in a minutes detail. It seems that in the past the religious leaders just left the religion flowing uncertainly, and developed according the local or even personal taste. There is a ceremony in Bali using blood called “ Tabuh Rah “ but they used chicken blood or some time egg just as a symbol of underworld being ( a strong influence of ancient Buddhist left hand path ). The understanding of underworld was inspired by the animistic belief that this world is divided into 3 levels. The highest level is the abode of gods, the medium level is the abode of human being, and the lowest level ( nether world/under world) is the abode of inferior being such as invisible being of the animals, dead spirits, and natures spirits. “ Tabuh Rah “ ceremony is offered for this nether world which was at the beginning of Tantrayana sect of Buddhist in Bali the ritual was offered to the goddess of death. Since Tantrayana thought in Indonesia and Bali also used blood as the symbol to provoke strength and power to their opponent and enemies. But this is merely symbol, and it is not specifically mentions that is human blood. While what happened in Tenganan is a process of training to prepare younger generation as strong warrior to depend their member and wealth, no more.

Trance Dance

Other thing Tenganan people share with the rest of Balinese is “ trance” in 3 meanings. Trance as medium of communication. between the living and the spirit of the dead. This is mostly related to the daily social and physical life of Balinese. When they are encountering unsolved problem they come to person considered able to communicate with the spirits of the dead member of the family and she/he can be a medium of communication between the living and the dead,
Trance during the sacred dances. These can be divided into 2 type of dances that are often experience the condition of trance. First is the common dance for all Balinese, such as those dances got their spirit influence of Tantrayana school such as Barong dance, Calonarang dance, and Barong & Kriss dance. Second are those dance typical to any village, such as Sanghyang Dedari dance at the Bali Age Villages. Please do not mixed up with Sanghyang dance which is created around 1930 at the village of Kedaton, Denpasar, Trance as a revelation of imperceptible spirits, here may be perceived as gods, spiritual beings, invisible being of nether world, and the like.

During a ceremony usually the ritual leaders in conducting the ceremony they have the processes. At first, they open the ceremony, or in our understanding they might report to the gods that the people are ready to pray. This part is only a complex process where usually ritual leaders are only participated by those who know well about the detail of offering and process. Second stage is a time when the whole members are gathering together to pray using flower, water, and incense burner, followed by a blessing with spreading holy water and “ bija “ ( row rice soaked in water to be sticked on the forehead and front of the ears ). Then the praying session is finished the ritual leaders are still sitting to continue other ritual processes. During this whole process from the preparation up to the praying assemble, one of the most blessed ritual leader can enter trance. The trance leader hereafter we call “the trance” only – is believed to be resided by the imperceptible beings as mentioned above. Each area in Bali within the village's location has their own imperceptible beings believed to reside certain place. They can reside the most blessed ritual leader and give the speech or simply give an order to the people in many things, such as inadequacy of the ceremony, a special ceremony to be done during a certain period, or even to build a shrine to the unknown spirit that need to be honored, and so on.

According to village elders, a ritual leader which is in trance can be resistant to any pressures such as feeling of pain, uninjured by knife, unburned by fire, and others. Some times the trance seems to be rather demonstrative by stabbing her/himself with sharp blade, stepping fire, or simple eating hard object. But this situation is only short, and normally the people hundred percent believe this orders or preach of the trance will be followed up. Lately due to the uncertain situation of the reliability of ritual leaders has been developing an idea to test the honesty by giving the trance a pressures such as striking light, testing blood pressure and so on. Psychology has also give the contribution in understanding the trance situation seeing from religious emotion, but this is not yet widely known by common Balinese, including those graduated in universities. This is just because they are lack of reading hobbies, and curiosities about their very cultural heritages. I personally hope that the development of socio-religious in Bali in the future will really based on consciousness and deep concern on spiritual life. Since spiritual life is not the same as religious rituals or emotion of belief

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Balinese Language
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People of Bali
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Early Chinese in Bali
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Kinship With Long Line
Language Dialect
Living Magic Belief
Marriage Tradition
Ngaben Cremation Ritual
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Traditional Synbols Pratima
Tenganan Bali Age Village
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Among various tour packages and tour options in Bali there are some tours which can be said always on the publications and interest a large part of travellers to Bali. Kintamani mountain tour sits at the first number as the most popular sightseeing tour, second is Taman Ayun and Tanah Lot tour, third is Uluwatu temple tour.