Jambe Budaya: Barong & Kris Dance

 

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      Tourism is one big business in Bali – in fact, it is the MAJOR business of the whole island.  The immigration counters in the airport are always full all day long.  We spent almost an hour in the queue waiting to have our passports stamped!

 

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      The tourism people know how to farm out their resources and make the whole island benefit from the tourism industry here.  For example, one sleepy vllage northeast of Denpasar is Batubalan.  Here, the people organized the community to stage a dance-play about the Barong & Kris Dance. This is a play that shows the eternal fight between good and evil.   The stage is set up in any of the open spaces in the rice fields, with chairs provided for the tourists to sit in and watch the drama unfold.

 

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      This is basically a story about the struggle between good and evil. Good is personified by the Barong Keket, a strange, fun-loving creature in the shape of a shaggy semi-lion. Evil is represented by Rangda, a witch.

 

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      Ultimately, the two characters engage in battle, at which point the Barong’s keris-bearing follower rush in to attack Rangda. The witch, however, uses her magical powers to turn the keris knives in upon their owners, who fall into a trance and start trying to stab themselves. The Barong uses magic to protect his followers from the knives. In the end, the Barong triumphs and Rangda retreats to recuperate her strength for the next encounter. All that remains is for a priest to help the keris dancers out of their trance, with the help of a little holy water. The Barong and Rangda dance is a very powerful performance and is not taken lightly by those involved in the production.

 

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     If I am not mistaken,  there are five different groups in this small community who put up this same stage play  EVERYDAY – and at IDR 80,000 per tourist, they must be raking it big! 

 

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