Monday, 27 February 2012

Bungklang Bungkling: Desa (Village) by Wayan Juniartha

Taken from ‘Bungklang Bungkling’, ‘Desa’, a column by I Wayan Juniartha, published in Bali Post, Sunday 05th February 2012. Translated by Putu Semiada.

Desa (Village)

What is really the ‘enemy’ of Balinese traditional villages (desa pekraman) in Bali?

“Our enemy is ‘globalization’; that is all the bad influences from overseas that can ruin our culture and villages as well,” says I Made Getap Ngetor (I Made Coward).

I Made seems imitates the big mouthed high ranking officials or Bali traditional leaders who often say bad things about western culture but drink French wine, eat Australian steak, use mobile phone made in Finland, Canada or Korea, and pay with American credit card.

“Where do you think the Chinese coin come from? Never say bad things about culture from overseas when you import your god-effigy material from other countries. Do you think you can survive without technology? You might have died of cholera, polio or malaria,” comments I Nyoman Negakin Gedebong (I Nyoman Takes Advantages of Others).

“Well, it means that our enemy is the Javanese: they take all of our jobs, they buy our lands and build mosques here as well,” replies I Made.

“Westerners and Chinese also buy large amounts of land here and they become managers and directors. Have you ever seen our Balinese brothers do vandalism against them, burn mosques or deport them?” asks I Nyoman.

“Are you saying that the enemy is own Balinese?” asks I Made.

“You should be open-minded. Your real enemy is ‘money’.

Everyone laughs loudly. It is the fist time for them to hear someone say money is an ‘enemy’, as for them, money is their ‘good friend’.

The current situation is that everyone is so desperate for money that he forgets his relatives, wife and parents. As money does a lot of things, it becomes one’s God.

“Now I get it, most problems in villages are caused by money; some people have no money at all, while some people have too much.”

It happens that a village isolates its member who cannot afford to pay monthly due (peturunan) to the banjar. One village fights another due over a village border when as a matter of fact, it’s really all about seizing more land so it can be sold for money. A village protests against a hotel when the hotel gives small contributions. A village fights the local government for control of a place of interest, as it gives big income. So, it’s all about money.

A Villager fight each other for positions such as bendesa (village traditions leader) or village bank (LPD) chairman. Both are good positions in terms of accumulating money as the government and mayors give financial support. Villages fight against their members who insist on separating and making their own new village. By having new village, they will get financial support from the government. It’s a fight for money!

“Imagine what would happen to our village if the mayor gave each village one billion Rupiahs ($1,000,000. Ed.)?”

Everyone is stunned. Everyone has a different idea about how they will use the money; whether to renovate temples, meeting halls (bale banjar), or to make a cockfighting arena, a swimming pool, buy new cars for bendesa, etc., etc, etc.