Balinese Village Council

On full moon night the sound of the “kulkul” calls the village members to the monthly meeting in the Bale Agung, the “big house” of the village. Under its roof sit the elder of the village, cross-legged in two rows facing one another. Each in the allotted place is carefully avoiding the empty seats of those who did not arrive yet, and talk in a calm manner.

Eventually the Bale Agung is filled. When everybody has arrived, the head of the village’s council calls each participant by his name to testify his presence, while two assistants go around with a torch and check if everybody is properly dressed by wearing the ceremony outfit and a kriss (torches are nowadays only used in remote villages which do not have electricity and the kriss may not be an obligation in some parts of Bali)

Thus the elders of the village meet at each full moon to participate to a “banquet” in the company of the Gods of the village, the ancestors who have founded it. The assistants distribute the holy grain rice and place it onto the forehead of anyone. When the process is completed, the oldest member sits at one end of the Bale Agung. In praying position he recites a rousing speech to call upon ancestral spirits, “pitara”, to join the banquet.

With a clear voice he calls “Kakeh! Kakeh” grand pa! Grand pa” followed by an invitation formula. Then he takes his seat again at the head of the council by the side of little wooden throne dedicated to the spirits of the village. Every body then unwind, breaking the tense silence, and start discussing the affairs of the village, the improvement of the temple, the next feast (gossips are very usual as well…) during a certain time before taking some leftovers of rice in banana leaves to be shared with the family at home.

This monthly event sets a marvelous religious significance of social organization of the village, the close relationship between the cult of the ancestors and the administration of the community.

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