The Most Unique Balinese Culture and Traditions

June 26, 2020

Bali has so many things to explore. Bali is strongly related to Hinduism, nature, offerings like Canang Sari, and sacred things such as the places, days, foods, and of course, the traditions. The fact is a Balinese culture and tradition has its own function, beauty, and the sacred stories behind.

Balinese culture and traditions have been carried on for centuries and still preserved until nowadays. Balinese believe that if the traditions are not carried out, bad things will happen. Uniquely, Balinese culture and traditions are different in every region, even in each village. So, for several traditions, you will only find it in a certain place. You will be the lucky one if you see one of those Balinese culture and traditions when you are in Bali. Read on, and get to know more about it. No one knows that you might be the lucky one someday. 


Balinese Tradition: Ngedeblag Photo source: Moe Umezawa

1. Ngedeblag – Balinese Halloween

Imitating your favorite characters from the cute one to the scary one on Halloween can be exciting. Halloween is one of favorite day for people around the world and welcomed with joy. So does Balinese Halloween, well-known as Ngedeblag. Ngedeblag is a tradition that intends to prevent and protect their village from bad luck, failure, and disease. This is a Balinese way to keep the Bhuana Agung (nature) and Bhuana Alit (Humans) safe. Ngedeblag is  held once a year, exactly on the transition between the fifth month and the sixth month of Balinese Calendar. It is a transition period in Bali which diseases can spread easily along with bad weather, like storms and scorching heat.

People that participate in this tradition is ranging from children to adults. They paint their faces into scary faces or even a funny one. People are walking around the village bring palm fronds, traditional music instruments, or even household equipment to make sounds. 

The procession of this tradition begins at midday, 12 o’clock. At the beginning of the processions, people pray together and receive a sprinkle of holy water. You can find this Balinese Halloween only at Kemenuh Village, Gianyar Regency, Bali. 


Balinese Tradition: Ngerebeg (The painted Boys) Photo source: Ayu Sekar

2. Ngerebeg

The other Balinese culture and tradition that similar like Ngedeblag is Ngerebeg at Tegalalang village, Gianyar regency, Bali. This tradition involves hundreds of children and some adults. They paint their face and body into scary looks, colorful, wearing kamben, and bare-chested. They bring young coconut midribs, palm fronds, holy flags, penjor etc. 

People in Tegalalang believe that Ngerebeg tradition can neutralize negativity and  bad luck around Tegalalang village. If they don’t carry out the tradition, bad things will happen. Same like Ngedeblag, Ngerebeg is held at noon and begins with pray together, eat together named Megibung, and then they walk around the Tegalalang village. Ngerebeg is held once in every 210 days, exactly a day before the birthday of Duur Bingin temple. Ngerebeg is the preliminary ritual. 


Mepeed - Walk in Line Photo source: Sekar Ayu

3. Mepeed – Walk in Line

The other unique Balinese culture and tradition that of course, you will only find it in Bali is Mepeed. Mepeed derives from the word ‘peed’ means walk in line. Generally, the participants of Mepeed are women who bring Gebogan on their head. Gebogan is a towering arrangement of fruits, flowers, traditional cakes, and some ornaments made from young coconut leaves. The average of Gebogan height is 1 meter and  arranged on a tray named Dulang.

Mepeed is held once every 210 days, usually on the Piodalan of any temples in Bali. The Piodalan of each temples in Bali are not at the same time. Therefore, Mepeed is held in different time in every region in Bali. Mepeed is held to show people’s gratitude to the Almighty God, and being continued from generation to generation. Now it becomes one of the Balinese cultural heritage.

But here in Sukawati, Gianyar Regency, Mepeed is held a little bit different from others. The participants of Mepeed are not only women, but everybody ranging from children to elderly. The Mepeed is held for four days, and there are hundreds people in line who take a part in Mepeed in each day. Also, they don’t bring Gebogan on their head.


Balinese Tradition: Mesbes Bangke (Tearing the Corpse) Photo source: Kintamani.id

4. Mesbes Bangke (Tearing the Corpse)

The most unique and extreme Balinese culture and tradition is Mesbes Bangke or tearing the corpse. It sounds terrible and scary, isn’t it? But, it’s real and still preserve until nowadays by the local people of Banjar Buruan, Tampak Siring, Gianyar Regency. No one knows who sparked this tradition and when is the first time this tradition is held.

Mesbes Bangke is only applied for those who carry out personal cremation (Ngaben ceremony). So, it doesn’t apply to the mass cremation. When the corpse is already done for the preparation, some people will carry away the corpse to the crematorium. On the other hand, local people of Banjar Buruan will wait for the corpse in front of the house of the corpse. When the corpse is already in front of the house, the local people will raid and tear apart the corpse using their hands even mouth. The local people are happy and excited, even some of them climb onto the corpse. The local people will stop when they are tired already, then people will continue to walk to the crematorium to carry away the corpse. 

Nowadays, the corpse is wrapped tightly and even chained, so that the local people of Banjar Buruan won’t tear the skin and the body of the corpse directly. In the ancient times, the corpse is taken out of the wrappers and tore of the flesh, and then passed it to other residents.

At that time, there were no preservatives to preserve the corpse that had been kept for days at home. People were looking for ways to remove the unpleasant odor of the corpse. Then the tradition of tearing up bodies sparked to make people excited and forget the stench of the corpse.

These are just some of Balinese culture and traditions.  There are lots to explore like Melasti Ceremony and  Nyepi in Bali which has incredible facts that may surprise you. Check this simple tips to experience Nyepi celebration in Bali. Almost all of those traditions are held based on Balinese Calendar that make it fall in different dates. If you want to explore one of them, make sure you have someone who knows about the tradition to call and get valid information. Another important thing to consider is finding a comfortable lodging that suits your need while you’re in Bali. If you are around Gianyar regency and don’t know where to stay, Ubud Villas Rental by Red Lotus Bali should be the your best problem solver. In Ubud Villas Rental, there are lots of villas that you can choose and adjust with your needs, budget, and anything else you need. Visit the site right now, and find your favorite one!