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On “Balinese are truly communal people”  

by on Thursday, 8 March 2007No Comment | 4,406 views

“Balinese are truly communal people”, this claim, of course need to be supported with a fact, and here is the fact.


If there is a work to be done by the Balinese, they will create a group to perform this task no matter haw simple this work. In Bali, there is an independent group for every purpose and only one purpose per group. Even when new or temporary needs for working together arise, Balinese do not normally employ one of their already existing social groupings, but instead usually establish a new one.

Sekaa Gong Gede on The Annual Bali Arts Festival 2006

The term for an organized group of any kind in Balinese is sekaa, which means literally “to be as one”. In a sekaa all members have equal rights and duties, irrespective of their status positions elsewhere. In the sekaa, all decisions are reached unanimously in meetings of the whole and leadership is nominal and non-authoritative, a situation made possible by the fact that each sekaa is not a part of larger organization but exist independently, free of other ties and influences.

Sekaa Manyi

Balinese form a sekaa for every purpose, and every activity. For example, each working activity in cultivating rice field has its own group – sekaa numbeg (for land cultivation), sekaa jelinjingan (for water tunnel maintenance), sekaa sambang (for water and pest surveillance), sekaa mamulih (for seed plantation), sekaa majukut (for plants surveillance), sekaa manyi (for harvest work), sekaa bleseng (for carrying paddy to the barn). Each working activity in the village also has its own group – sekaa semal (for keeping the village coconut trees free from marauding rodents), sekaa suun (for carrying goods back and forth to market), sekaa gong (for playing gamelan orchestra), sekaa ngigel (dance troupe), etc. There is even a group for every pastime – sekaa tajen (for arranging cockfights and commercial activities that accompany them), sekaa jangkrik (for arranging cricket fights), sekaa tuak (for drinking palm beer), sekaa arak (for drinking distilled palm beer), sekaa kidung or sekaa santi (for singing and interpreting traditional poetry), etc.

If the above-mentioned fact is not enough to convince you, I will present another supporting fact, another time.

Most of the materials for this writing are taken from Hildred and Clifford Geertz’s Kinship of Bali.

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