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Dance of peace graces Women's March Jakarta 2017

Ni Nyoman Wira
Ni Nyoman Wira

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Mon, March 6, 2017 | 03:02 pm
Dance of peace graces Women's March Jakarta 2017

The main event of Women's March Jakarta 2017 takes place in the front area of the State Palace on March 4. (JP/Ni Nyoman Wira)

Accompanied by an a cappella arrangement with a touch of Balinese music, several dancers from the Bengkel Tari Ayu Bulan dance studio performed Rejang Shanti during the Women’s March Jakarta 2017 on Saturday in the front area of the State Palace.

Donning white kebaya and hair accessories made of lontar (palm leaves), the dancers conveyed a message of serenity through their slow and peaceful movements. “It is a ‘peace’ dance,” said Balinese dance maestro Ayu Bulantrisna Djelantik, also known as Biang Bulan ('biang' means mother or aunt in Balinese), who is also the dance studio's founder.

Balinese dance maestro Ayu Bulantrisna Djelantik, also known as Biang Bulan, performs a Rejang Shanti dance during the Women's March Jakarta 2017.(JP/Ni Nyoman Wira)

Biang Bulan explained that she created the dance to depict the current era, which she described as full of stress, hatred, hoaxes and deception. “I created the ‘peace’ dance [as a symbol to help us] ‘ruwat’ [heal] ourselves and our earth. And also to protect our eyes, ears and hearts so that we can stay peaceful and appreciate differences,” she told The Jakarta Post. 

Rejang itself is a sacred Balinese dance, while shanti means "peace” in the mantras of Hinduism. “Rejang is actually a communal dance, which everyone can follow because it’s very simple. It functions to ‘ruwat’, exorcize evil and pray for blessing,” said Biang Bulan, adding that the dance was usually performed during an odalan (anniversary) of a temple in Bali.

The participants presented eight demands, which include tolerance, diversity and increased access to health services for women, eliminating violence against women, protecting the living environment and female workers, improving the representation of women in politics, and eliminating discrimination and violence against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) communities.(JP/Ni Nyoman Wira)

Read also: Women's March Jakarta 2017 to raise gender equality issues

Rejang Shanti was the opening of the Women’s March Jakarta 2017, which saw hundreds stroll down the streets of Central Jakarta, starting from Sarinah to the State Palace. They presented eight demands, which include tolerance, diversity and increased access to health services for women, eliminating violence against women, protecting the living environment and female workers, improving the representation of women in politics, and eliminating discrimination and violence against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) communities.

Aside from the dance performance, the event also hosted musical performances by Sisters in Danger, Melanie Subono and Mutiara Malika; poetry reading by Helga Worotitjan, Ayu Meutia, Putri Minangsari and Tiar S; a sharing session by activist-cum-artist Nova Eliza from Women’s Voices Foundation (YSHP) and a belly dance performance.

Women and men march down Jakarta streets, starting from Sarinah to the State Palace.(JP/Ni Nyoman Wira)

One of the march participants, Meriana, who hails from Bandung, said that she came to Jakarta to support gender equality. “I expect that Indonesian people’s solidarity will get stronger and justice will be improved to the point that people will not have to suffer violations of their rights,” she said. “I [also] hope Indonesian people can be more aware, open and smart.”

Another participant, Daniel Hadiputra, said women had always been discriminated against. “I am taking part in this march to realize what should’ve happened a long time ago, which is gender equality,” he said. “I highly support the march, which aims to show the world that women and men are equal. I hope many people realize that women can do [anything] and they are capable of doing [anything].” (kes)

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