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Home » People & Community

The Banjar Suka Duka in the Netherlands  

by on Saturday, 16 August 2008No Comment | 1,585 views

Here is an interesting excerpt about Balinese and Balinese community in Netherlands taken from an article written by Ana Dragojlovic entitled Performing Balinese Femininity in Migration. Without further ado here is the excerpt

Banjar is the civic organisation central to the social organisation of village life in Bali. According to previous scholarship, ideally a banjar in Bali is a residential association within the encompassing ‘customary village,’ the desa adat. The banjar is responsible for organising and maintaining local public facilities and it may request the labour of its members for this or any other communal goal. Tight solidarity and strong social ties within the banjar make it the centre of most village social and economic activities. Banjar organisations in Bali have been undergoing a series of changes, on the one hand influenced by the Indonesian state and on the other by local dynamics within villages. Because of increasing migration from the 1970s to locations outside Bali and Indonesia, some Balinese started organising themselves into networks in their adopted countries. Those networks, while often bearing the name of banjar, are characterised by numerous differences and adaptations appropriate to the circumstances in the new country. In the Netherlands, banjar adherents gather twice a year to celebrate Kuningan/Galungan.

• The Banjar Suka Duka in the Netherlands was established in 1995, under the patronage of the late I Wayan Mudiarta, and on the initiative of several families from Bali who had been living in the Netherlands for some years. Before 1995, there were several smaller Balinese networks organised around axes of proximity of residence and on their common interests. The initiative for a more formal organisation came from the realisation that the number of families of Balinese origin was steadily growing, especially from the late 1980s. A few years before 1995, people in these smaller networks in the Netherlands, who were already celebrating Galungan in their private houses, initiated the idea that all Balinese living in the Netherlands (and Europe more generally) should celebrate Galungan together and thus get to know each other better.

• The banjar name Suka Duka translates as ‘mutual help in joy and sorrow’ and evokes the collective ideology. The banjar is seen as a ‘Balinese family’ on which members can always rely. While Warren suggests that powerful kin or title groups could dominate their banjar, Geertz and Geertz asserted that the structure of the banjar might instead play down the importance of kinship. My ethnographic material accords with Warren’s observation that banjar relations are regarded as kin-like relations and there is a general belief that strong bonds between people within the banjar in the Netherlands are seen as of greater importance not only to ties of relationship by marriage (and to Dutch in-laws) but also to those of the place of origin in Bali.

• The structure of the present Banjar Suka Duka council (susunan pengurus sekarang) consists of the banjar chair (Ketua) and several assistants responsible for different tasks such as: first deputy (wakil), secretary (sekretaris), treasurer (bendahara), those responsible for leading the prayers during a ceremony (pemimpin persembahyangan), the section leaders for catering (seksi konsumsi), for ritual offerings (seksi sesajen), for music and room decoration (seksi musik dan tata ruangan), for art (seksi kesenian) and advisers (penasehat). Some people have multiple roles in the banjar structure. Unlike in Bali, where normally every adult male (the head of the household) is a member of the banjar council, the Suka Duka has only eighteen council members, chosen on the principle of rotation and responsible for the organisation of social gatherings. Interestingly, unlike banjar in Bali, there are several women on the council.

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