Prominent communities living on three islets — Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan — are eager to revitalize their disappearing tari wewalian (sacred dances). I Wayan Suteja, head of Nusa Penida district in Klungkung regency, told Bali Daily on Friday that the majority of the younger generations on the islets were not familiar with their own artistic heritage — starting from dances to the centuries-old cepuk traditional woven cloth, the pride of the older generations. “Nusa Penida and the other two islets are now being recognized as poor, arid and infertile lands. We want to erase such a depressing image of our home by revitalizing our precious arts,” Suteja said.
Klungkung regional administration had previously mapped its old and sacred dances, but that was in 2001. Among the registered dances were 13 dances, with approximately 94 variations of dance-theater performances, including Gambuh and Sanghyang Grodogan. During the recent Bali Arts Festival, artists from the three islets performed a reconstruction of their Gambuh, foremost an oral literary tradition combined with the dance-theater concept. The Gambuh performance presented Raden Panji Mesepatih, one episode of the Panji folklore story, which actually originated from East Java. The story tells the life of royalty — their romances, wars and conflicts — from the Ketiban and Deha Kingdoms.
Most of the dancers were over 40-years-old, as grooming young talent had been very challenging for this art troupe. On the neighboring Nusa Lembongan, locals residents have worked to regenerate their almost extinct Sanghyang Grodogan. “Sanghyang Grodogan was not staged for more than 30 years. This is one of the most sacred arts in our village,” said I Nyoman Murta, village chief of Lembongan. For 11 days, starting from July 25 on Buda Cemeng Kliwon day through Aug. 4, the day the Balinese Hindus celebrate Tumbek Bubuh, the Lembongan community presented the long-forgotten Sanghyang Grodogan dance.
Murta said that many people no longer remembered this dance, performed the last time in the late 1970s. Sanghyang Grodogan is a folk art involving dozens of mostly aging artists. They pushed Sanghyang Grodogan, a cart made from wood, bamboo, paper and dry leaves, while walking and dancing. Sanghyang Grodogan is performed in conjunction with Tumpek Bubuh Day in which the Balinese Hindus express their gratitude toward the Creator, nature, for blessing them with vegetation, plants and fruit. There will be Sanghyang Jukung made in the form of traditional vessels, Sanghyang Sapi in the form of cows, Sanghyang Kelor symbolizing the medicinal and herbal kelor leaf, and other forms symbolizing the lives on the islet and its communities.
Most of the younger Lembongan people have no memory or knowledge of how to present this art form. “All forms of Sanhyang have philosophical meanings. In the past, the traditional vessel symbolized a means to expel precarious things into the sea as the majority of Lembongan people were fishermen,” Murta said. I Made Suarnatha, an environmental activist from the Wisnu Foundation, plans to record these sacred arts by making documentary films and videos. “These are Bali’s most precious art forms that closely link to the Hindu philosophy of Tri Hita Karana, a harmonious relation among the Creator, humans and nature,” Suarnatha said. He expected that documentaries of such endangered art forms would not disappear from Bali and would always be part of the island’s cultural heritage.
source : bali daily