Pangerebongan is a ritual that is full of mystery and carries a spiritual power that is sometimes beyond the rational thought patterns of ordinary people. The ceremony of Pangerebongan is held every 210 days in accordance to the ancient Balinese lunar calendar, exactly eight days after the Kuningan religious holiday.
The participants of this ceremony are the members of the local community whose homes surround the royal residence of Puri Kesiman in east Denpasar and they walk in procession to the Petilan Temple. Old heirlooms, sacred artifacts and the barong and rangda masks, which are symbols of black and white magic, are taken out of safekeeping and carried in the procession.
Apparently this procession is a show of force that always follows the Galungan and Kuningan religious holidays to represent the victory of goodness against the powers of evil.
The ceremony commences as followers of the Hindu faith pray together at Petilan temple. The mythical creatures of barong(goodness) and rangda (evil) lead the procession against a background of gamelan music. The soft clang of instruments suddenly adopts a rapid pace and screams are echoed throughout the crowd. The barong starts to leap and bound as if possessed by some sort of invisible force.
Men from within the crowd begin to trance as a higher spirit invades their bodies. Some of the men attempt to stab their chests with traditional daggers known as keris. Strangely enough no one is ever injured nor is there any blood spilt in this unexplained phenomena.
Within the Balinese Hindu religion, art is always an important factor that is inseparable from ritual process. The ceremony of Pangerebongan is always a popular event on the Balinese calendar and a crowd invariably gathers to view the event. The local community eagerly anticipates this rite as a form of entertainment that conveys an in-depth spiritual message of evil being overtaken by the elements of goodness.