Barong and kris dance, Batuan, Bali, Indonesia

One of the must-sees while in Bali is a traditional Balinese dance, our guide brought us to one of the more popular dances held at Pura Puseh in the city of Batuan, ten kilometers south of Ubud. The dance is known as the Barong and kris dance, the Barong  lion-like mythical Balinese creature, and the kris (or keris) is a traditional dagger with a wavy blade.

The Barong and kris dance

The Barong play represents an eternal fight between good and evil.  Barong (a mythological animal) represents the good spirit and Rangda (a mythological monster) represents an evil one.

The dance starts with a music overtone

Followed by his friend the monkey, the tiger comes out.  Three masked dancers appear, representing men making palm wine in the forest, whose child is killed by the Barong.  The three men get angry and attack the Barong which is helped by the monkey.  During the fight, the nose of one of the three men is bitten off.

First act

Two girl dancers appear, representing the servants of the Rangda, looking for the servants of Dewi Kunti who are on the way to meet their Patih (Prime Minister).

Second act

The servants of Dewi Kunti come.  One of the servants of the Rangda changes into a witch.  The witch enters and makes both servants angry.  They meet their Patih and go together to Dewi Kunti.

Third act

Dewi Kunti and her son, Sadewa come up.  Dewi Kunti has promised the Rangda to sacrifice Sadewa.  A witch appears and enters Dewi Kunti.  She becomes angry and orders the Patih to bring Sadewa into the forest.  The Patih also enters and does not have pity on Sadewa.  Sadewa is then taken to into a forest and tied to a tree.

Fourth act

Unknown by Rangda, Siwa God appears and gives Sadewa immortality.  The Rangda appears, ready to kill Sadewa, and eat him up but Sadewa is still alive.  She then surrenders and asks him to redeem herself.  Sadewa agrees and kills the Rangda.  The Rangda goes into Heaven.

Fifth act

One of the servants of the Rangda called Kalika comes up before Sadewa and asks him to redeem herself, too.  Sadewa refuses.  Kalika gets angry and changes herself into a boar and fights Sadewa.  The boar can be defeated.  She then changes herself into a bird but is defeated again.  At last she changes herself into Rangda and Sadewa cannot kill her.  In such circumstances, Sadewa decides to then change himself into a Barong.  Still the Rangda seems to be too powerful and the fight is ended.  Followers of the Barong appear and help him fight the Rangda.

Dharohar – culture and heritage concert of Rajasthan, India

Sonya recommended we see this as she had seen similar last time she was Udaipur. The tickets were fairly inexpensive at one-hundred rupees plus a little extra for use of camera during the performance.

The show features the different music and dance styles found in the state of Rajasthan.

Traditional Rajasthani instruments

The show starts with an elderly man playing a ravanahatha (a bowed string instrument local to the Rajasthan region) and a veiled women singing.

Elderly man playing a ravanahatha and a veiled women singing

Next three girls performed the fire dance from the Bikaner region of Rajasthan. The girls would move hypnotically and trance like to the music all while balancing kerosene torches on their heads.

Fire dance from the Bikaner region of Rajasthan
Girls balancing kerosene torches on their heads

Following on was the impressive Tera Tali dance, in this performance a women with thirteen Manjiras (small cymbals) all tied around her legs and arms sits on the ground.  The women then strike these cymbals with other manjiras on string, it was a very visual performance.

Tera Tali dance from Rajasthan
Girl dancing traditional Rajasthani dance

Veiled women dances followed next for a traditional Rajasthani dance known as Ghoomar. The women gracefully danced and twirled to the traditional folk music.

Dancer of traditional Rajasthan region dance
Two girls dancing to traditional Rajasthan folk music
Traditional Rajasthani dance known as Ghoomar.

Next was a comical puppet show, featuring a dancing princess, a rider and horse and a magician who could separate his head all in time to the puppeteer’s mouth whistle.

The final act was the infamous balancing pot lady. The Bhavai Dance originated from the balancing skills of the women who carried pots of water on their heads for long distances. In this dance the woman balanced a staggering ten pots on her head (though the last three were all pre-glued together).

Bhavai Dance originated from the balancing skills of the women who carried pots of water on their heads
Woman balanced a staggering ten pots on her head