The charm of Balinese traditional dance has captured the eyes and hearts of so many visitors to the island. There are an assortment of dances and music from Bali that are performed on stage regularly in several areas in the island, such as in Ubud, Batu Bulan, Uluwatu, Tanah Lot and other tourism destinations. However, there are a number of Balinese dances that are not performed on stage, but reserved only for religious ceremonies. Those dances are considered sacred and performed as part of the offerings made for the mighty Gods and the holy spirits.
Rejang Dance is one of several sacred dances of the island. There are many types of Rejang, which are Rejang Renteng, Rejang Bengkel, Rejang Ayodpadi, Rejang Galuh, Rejang Dewa, Rejang Sutri and many more. The attire, the routines, and the sacred offering held by the dancers while performing are dependent on the traditions in the village where the ceremony held, the type of the holy ceremony, and the religious status of the dancers.
I recently had an opportunity to embrace the unique Rejang Dewa performed for a blessing ritual for a newly built construction in Tatag Village of Gianyar. A group of little girls were shining bright wearing yellow and white shade wrap-around fabrics. They were wearing beautiful handmade tower shape headdress. The beautiful piece is made of dried palm leaf dyed with arrays of beautiful colours.
The routines they performed may look simple, but the dance actually played an important role to the whole ritual. Rejang Dewa sets the scene for the entire ritual. The dance is performed to welcome the deities and holy spirits of the ancestors. Charming harmonies from the gamelan – a traditional Balinese orchestra – filled the atmosphere to accompany every move the dancers made. The sweet fume of the burning incense sticks blended nicely with the fresh air of Tatag Village.
It is said that the Rejang Dewa dancers are symbolic to the nymph in the myth of Dewata Nawasanga, a story of a great fight between Gods and giants over holy water of immortality. The stunningly beautiful nymphs were definitely took the side the Gods, giving great support in charming the giants so the Gods finally win the holy water.