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How Balinese Settle a Dispute  

by on Saturday, 24 February 2007No Comment | 1,224 views

A dispute involving Balinese on both sides will likely be settled out of courtroom. The court is considered the last resort for justice and settlement by Balinese, avoided if possible. The Balinese prefer to settle their difference or dispute peacefully, and if possible come to an agreement among themselves. For example a traffic accident involving Balinese on both side seldom end up in the court, they will settle the matter peacefully on the spot, the spirit of “menyama Bali” (all Balinese is a family) prevent Balinese from suing each other on the court over a trifle matter such as minor traffic accident. Even for a fatal accident that cost life, seldom end up in the courtroom, a settlement for this terrible accident will be reached in a forum involving prominent family members of both sides.

If agreement cannot be reached among themselves, Balinese will apply to the banjar (sub-village) or village leader to act as mediator for a friendly settlement. Disputes concerning rice fields or irrigation water are settled by a council of special agricultural society, the subak.


In any case, the village heads leave no stone unturned for a quick settlement of the affair to prevent its becoming involved in a legal court procedure, which is always distasteful to them and it is only as a last resort, when all other resource have failed. Handling a case to the court will be considered as disgrace to the community. It is a sign community inability to solve the problem its own problem, in Bali problem of a community’s member is considered the problem of the community.

Balinese distaste the court since it is time and money consuming. A dispute over a piece of lands my last for years and drains the family treasury of the both side. When their cases are brought to the courtroom, Balinese tend to be emotional and end up in a maniacal competition to win the case. Bribery, intrigue, and other dirty and expensive tactics will be used by both sides to win the case. These competition drains the family treasury, land have to be sold to finance this dirty competition, and at the end both sides will suffered a great economic lost and the case is still far from reaching a settlement.


Another way of settling a dispute that is avoided by the Balinese is taking “cor” oath. For example a dispute over a piece land is settled simply by taking a sacred oath, the one who dare take the sacred oath is considered to be the rightful owner of the land. The procedure looks so simple but the oath is terrible and has undoubtedly strong magical power that always manifest into reality. Here is a part of the sacred oath, or curse as a matter of fact

“…imposters and their accomplices shall be confounded by every evil and be struck by lightning. When they go into the forest they shall become entangled in the creepers, losing their way, running here and there without finding the road. Tigers shall attack them. They shall dash against the rocks, their skulls split open, and their brains spill out. On the cross road they shall be crushed by falling trees. In the field they shall be struck by lightning from a clear sky, be bitten by poisonous serpent, and torn to bits by the horns of buffaloes. They shall fall into deep rivers where pointed stones will cut their chest open, their bones will be dislocated and the blood flow from their veins. Their corpse shall sink to the bottom of the water. When they are at sea, they shall be attacked by the crocodiles. The Sumdang Aal and the Peh fish shall bite them and the poisonous sea serpents Lempe strike them, and the sea monster will swallow them. In their house they shall be the pray of all sorts of sickness and they shall die unnatural death. No one shall help them and during their sleep they shall die while dreaming, they shall die standing up, die shall die while eating or drinking. Neither they, nor their children, their grandchildren, their great-grandchildren shall be men on this earth, they shall reincarnate as maggots, clams, worms, and serpents. Such is the curse for the imposters as is ordained by Ari Tjandana and Angasti and Eminent Gods of the East, North, South, West, and Center… They, their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren shall know no further happiness from now on”.

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