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THE STRUCTURE OF BALINESE SOCIETY

Since independence government has no longer been in the hands of the kings. Each village has its own local government called the banjar, which assists the government of the Republic of Indonesia in dealing with the needs of the village such as marriages, religious ceremonies, cremation ceremonies, taking care of temples, irrigation, and so on.

One unique nspect of Balinese social life is religion. The Hindu Bali or Hindu-Dharma religion is full of ceremonies and it is therefore not surprising that there are temples everywhere in Bali. Each village has three kinds of temples: the pura puseh an ancient temple which shows the origin of the village; the pura desa, the temple for official village ceremonies; and the pura dalam, the death temple. There are also various other temples such as the pura bedugul the agriculture temple; pura bukit the mountain temple; pura sogara, the sea or coast temple; pura melanting, the temple of the gods. The Balinese kings also used to have private temples called pura panataran. There is also a large group of temples, the Pura Besakih, one temple for each of the kings of Buleleng, Bangli, Den Pasar, Gianyar, Negara, Tabanan, Karangasern and Klungkung.

There are two kinds of priests of the Hindu-Dharma religion, i.e. the pedanda and the pemangku The podanda is a fully qualified Hindu priest who only works at the special festivities which inaugurate the annual purification of the village from demons and evil spirits. Pemangku is a priest from the village, also as curator of the pura (temple) he performs the actual ceremony in the temple of the community.

The author has often referred to the role of dancing in religious ceremonies. In Bali, nearly all dances are sacral, and because the Balinese attach so much importance to dancing in their cremonies, dances have been excellently preserved and cultivated.

The dances of the native Balinese before the period of Hindu Javanese influence were magical and sacral in nature but were gradually adapted to the Hindu-Dharma religion. Apart from this kind of dances there are also many other dances which are performed purely for entertainment.

According to an old Balinese belief, the world is full of dangers that threaten the lives of the people. This belief is rooted in Balinese society, and to avoid these dangers, the people hold a great number of religious observances throughout the year at fixed times. Some of the religious offerings take the form of dances. There are even special dances which function as a means of diverting threatening dangers, usually diseases, an example of which is the-sungbyang dance.

 

 
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