Portrait of Balinese Customs and Culture in the Middle of a Pandemic

Portrait of Balinese Customs and Culture in the Middle of a Pandemic

Denpasar: The smiles of the Balinese dancers are no longer seen accompanying the flexibility of their hand and body movements. The facial expressions that reflect the Balinese dance character that he performed disappeared because they had to be covered with masks.

Likewise, Hindu religious leaders must chant prayers from behind masks and face shields when leading prayer ceremonies at the temple.

Balinese customs and culture, which are known for their uniqueness, thick with togetherness and mutual cooperation, must immediately change because they have to implement new habitual adaptation stages in an effort to overcome the transmission of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Since the virus outbreak claimed two victims, namely British and French citizens in Bali around March 2020, Bali has become a frightening tourist area. Case after case, Covid-19 has increased through local transmission or transmission between residents.

Balinese traditional and cultural rituals which are held almost every time, always involve many people because of the strong attachment to adat / gotong royong. However, such crowds raise concerns that it will become one of the potential places for the new covid-19 cluster.

Therefore in September 2020 the Bali Provincial Government together with Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia (PHDI) and the Bali Province Traditional Village Council (MDA) issued a circular relating to the application of health protocols when carrying out these traditional and cultural ritual activities.


The circular basically restricts customary and cultural activities that cause crowds. In its implementation, Pecalang as a customary security unit together with traditional village leaders is at the forefront in controlling the implementation of health protocols. Citizens’ obedience to customary rules and their traditional leaders is key in overcoming the deadly plague.

For example, during prayers at the temple, carrying a ‘thermo gun’ Pecalang monitors the body temperature of the congregation present. Supervision is also in terms of wearing masks or face shields, washing hands and the maximum number of people attending, a maximum of 25 people at each prayer stage.

Likewise, the Ngaben procession was no longer colored with the procession of the corpse. The Ngaben procession is currently only attended by the nuclear family and closest relatives. Even in cases of death due to covid-19, the Ngaben procession was carried out by members of the Covid-19 Task Force for the Acceleration of Handling (GTPP) wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). The family can only watch the cremation procession from a distance.

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