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Traditional Volunteerism in Bali  

by on Saturday, 8 November 2008No Comment | 877 views

Volunteerism has been exist in Balinese society for centuries in various forms, one of them is “ngayah” The word ‘ngayah’ is hard to define, it is derived from the word ‘ayah’ means ‘voluntary work,’ and the word ‘ngayah’ itself can be defined as ‘working voluntarily.’


Ngayah is usually defined as working voluntarily in relation with the preparation of ceremony or other activities in relation with the temple, such as, cleaning the temple, voluntary performance of traditional dance, and drama, shadow puppet, and kakawin (singing ancient text) during the temple anniversary or ceremony. The ngayah activity in the temple is usually organized by the head of temple congregation or by the committee of the ceremony.

In some areas in Bali, the term ngayah is also used for voluntary work in helping the preparation of a ceremony in the house of high caste family by the people from the lower caste. Voluntary work in helping the preparation of a ceremony in a house that has the same caste with the helpers or lower is called “nguopin”. The committee of the ceremony usually organizes this ngayah or nguopin activities.


Though the ‘ngayah’ and ‘nguopin’ activity is voluntarily based activity but constant failure to join this activity will result the wrath of God and community. The wrath of God is believed to be the source of misfortune but the worst and most feared misfortune for the Balinese comes from the wrath of community. The constant failure to join ‘ngayah’ activities during a long period of time is considered as a sign of inconformity and disloyalty to the society, for Balinese the golden rule is ‘if we share the good time we must also share the bad.’ In some cases, this kind of offend is end up with exclusion from the community.


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