The balai banjar has a prominent place in Balinese culture as a community center where local residents gather for meetings or to prepare a religious ceremony. Drawing upon this concept, the people of Banjar Tengah in Bedulu village, Gianyar regency, have collaborated with a travel agent to attract foreign tourists by allowing them to observe and participate in a typical day at a balai banjar.
From Oct. 7 to 8 in the village, European and Asian visitors were seen cooking Balinese dishes, assembling canang sari (offerings), making klakat (woven bamboo used in religious rites) and playing traditional music instruments. They were also allowed to visit local homes, where some visitors opted to remain and mingle with the villagers. The visitors also enjoyed traditional dances in the evening while tucking into a meal of local dishes.
“We developed balai banjar to empower the people’s economy and enhance Bedulu’s potential as tourist village,” Banjar Tengah head I Ketut John told Antaranews.com. “We teamed up with a travel agent in Bali to lure foreign tourists to Banjar Tengah’s balai.”
According to the Gianyar regency website, Bedulu village lies 26 kilometers northeast of Denpasar and is known as the birthplace of the modern Kecak dance.
I Ketut is optimistic that the concept will draw in potential tourists, especially as the village has many other attractions, such as the Yeh Pulu Temple, Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave) and the Samuan Tiga Temple. “We shouldn’t only view [the concept] from a commercial angle, but also think about how it could improve Bedulu village’s tourism,” he said.
One of the visitors, Jessy, said she was glad to be able to blend in with the local community and be immersed in their daily activities. “Their kindness makes us happy,” she said. “Everyone came to see and learn [about] a culture that does not exist in our [own countries]. This is what we want.”
An illustration shows ‘canang sari’, a daily offering that is placed at temples and community shrines across Bali. Assembling ‘canang sari’ is part of the daily activities that visitors can experience in Gianyar regency’s Bedulu village, which has applied the tourism concept of cultural immersion. (GoogleImages)