Tradition, culture, ancestors’ spirits and a strong belief in a supreme God are elements that are respected in various forms through the practices of the Balinese Hindu. Those elements cannot be detached from each other as they complete each other, and the Balinese consistently acknowledge the importance of those elements in their life as well as how they affect the present and the future. Therefore, it’s impossible to differentiate whether a ritual is held for the sake of tradition or as part of Hindu teachings, whilst other cultural performances are seen to be a significant part of sacred ceremony.
Some dances, the more sacred ones, are usually performed as important parts of or predecessors of holy ceremonies. The Baris Gede dance is one out of a number of sacred dances usually performed at this type of ceremony. Baris Gede comes in various titles depending on the weapon carried by the dancers; one of the rarer Baris dances that I recently watched was the Baris Tumbak.
Baris Tumbak portrays a squad of royal guards who defend a kingdom from an enemy. The depicted war scene is that of the mythological battle between Lord Indra and Mayadenawa, a devilish monster. Other scenes and movement are symbolic of a welcoming gesture to the arrival of the supreme God and deities who come to bless the people.
Clad with a long sleeve top and trousers created from a wrap-around white fabric, and adorned with layers of golden printed fabric. On their head, an attractive headdress in a shape of a mountain was a lovely addition to the, already beautiful, costume. Both the movements and the costume went hand in hand, successfully representing the troupe as if they were really were a unit of mighty warriors.
It was held during the Melaspas Ceremony of Bali Adventure Tours – a ceremony aimed at providing blessings to a new establishment, in this case in the Tatag Village. The Baris Tumbak was one of several dances that was performed to begin the ceremony. A group of eighteen male dancers, each of them holding a spear, formed three rows on the spacious courtyard. They were waiting for a sign from the Gamelan musicians. As the music began, the dancers started to move forward. Both arms spread as high as their shoulders, their body drew a vertical line as they stood robustly, and their walking movement was slow but sturdy. It was a captivating performance, and the music made the whole scene even more entrancing.