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A Glimpse on Pecalang  

by on Tuesday, 24 March 2009One Comment | 1,786 views

Bali is an island which is very active in celebrating traditional ceremony. Almost everyday, all over the island, traditional ceremonies and celebrations are held. And those celebrations and ceremonies need security forces to ensure the ceremonies and celebrations are going well. In this case this task is tackled by Pecalang.

If you take a look in every Balinese ceremony you will know what pecalang are and how they looks like. Pecalang resemble police that they work in group. They (pecalang) use black-red-white checkerboard-pattern “saput” (a traditional Balinese lower cloth which is tied in waist and is used to cover the main cloth (kamben). The main cloth is longer and covers the legs). They also use head-cloth named “udeng” and sometimes using waist coat.

Etymologically, Pecalang derived from ‘celang’ means vigilant. That is logic because pecalang have to secure the ceremony process from any problems. They worked based on the traditional rules (awig awig) and appointed by the member of Banjar (hamlet).

They became more popular since they succeeded in securing the PDIP (one of parties in Indonesia) congress in Bali in 1998. Besides, their success in securing Bali Travel Mart (2000) and international meeting in terms of environment got two thumbs up from Balinese people.


In 2002 also, there was a seminar to decide the ethics of pecalang. That seminar decided pecalang should coordinate with police in order to avoid overlapping in duties between the pecalang and polices . But the fact is, nowadays pecalang sometimes block the road without any coordination with police.

Some Balinese nowadays consider pecalang arrogant. There is a sense of proud in using waistcoat and they are very overly pleased in directing the traffic on the road. Sometimes, Balinese are resentful because pecalang in directing the traffic based on what they think are the best. Pecalang nowadays tends to be men with big bodies, long and unkempt hairs, and scary faces. Some of them sometimes play “ceki” (card games which is categorized as gambling) and get drunk. They merely would like to show their existence actually. But. Balinese need a vigilant pecalang to secure them and keep the ceremony process going well. Balinese still need true Pecalang.

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