The Bali Banjar Traditional Village Community
The traditional Bali village community is overseen by the Banjar. This is a traditional town council and has all male government. Each married male represents their family at this particular council, which meets near the temple village or pura desa at the Banjar pavilion. This meeting happens twice a month.
The Banjar dispense laws traditionally as well as select dates for events that are religious events. They also oversee the sale of land, allocate maintenance of the temple, receive money to distribute to different ceremonies and occasionally hand out punishment to those that cause trouble. So how does this fit into village structure?
The Kabupaten, Kecamatan, and Kelurahan all have a part to play. The Banjar controls a Desa or Kelurahan. The fields are Subak governed, which tell the farmers when to flood their fields. All villages have a structure that is organized. Each Desa will have a Banjar and their community meeting place is very easy to find. Membership in this organization is required for all married Balinese man. This system also lends money for equipment needs. Each member takes turns menial duties, cleaning and cooking. The head for the Banjar is chosen by a medium of the Gods.
Only married couples are full members of this society and have all rights and privileges. A foreigner or non Balinese cannot be a part of this society. The meetings are held in the Bahasa Bali language and decisions are brought before the Sangkep. This happens along a rate of 35 days or so. When it comes to ceremonies as far as local temples or the families are concerned, a pejati has to be given at the Kahyangan Tiga before these ceremonies can begin. All temples including the Pura Peseh, Pura Dalem and Pura Desa are included and vital parts of rituals in the local area.
When it comes to decision making in the Banjar, this is on the agreement that this decision must be made unanimous. This type of government has been recognized since 1979 by Indonesia and is the administration lowest nationally. It fits in under Lurah and beyond Bendesa Adat. There are two types of Banjar – the Kelian Dinas which is administrative and the Kelian Adat which is customary. These two people are together unless both the positions are taken by just one person. This is in collaboration with the Bendesa Adat or village head.
Modern day Banjars have up to 200 individual family compounds comprising the Banjar. A The Banjar also has an association called the Suka Duka Banjar. This means sharing pain and joy. This work is called Ayahan and every member of the Banjar has responsibilities and if someone does not participate they can be removed from the society. In recent times, the Banjar have helped keep riots to a minimum, using locals for staff for events and construction. They can also close off certain roads for religious ceremonies and have the respect, even fearful respect of the country of Bali. They are the one social unit in Indonesia that has this respect from all Bali.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
R. Meester is a writer for Bali land property (Bali-Property) in Bali.