Hunting for moments
Shirtless: Two cameramen from national TV stations are allowed to record from the village’s elevated pavilion on one condition – they must wear the traditional costumes.The noisy sounds of the youth of Tenganan Pegringsingan fighting in their pandanus battle competed against the sounds of hundreds of camera shutters clicking.
It was as if there were no boundaries – only a three-meter-long piece of wood wrapped in thorny pandanus leaves held by a pecalang (traditional security officer) of Tenganan village – between those performing the sacred ritual and the photo hunters.
The atmosphere was similar to that during recent Waisak celebrations, when faithful Buddhists expressed their discomfort because of the presence of photographers aiming for precious shots stepping a little too close to their chanting of sacred prayers.
As documentation of Balinese cultural performances is no longer the privilege of certain elite groups, like the foreigners who dominated the domain in the past, the borders between sacred rituals and cultural performances are more blurred than ever.
Inside view: A Tenganan girl takes a picture of the ritual with her cell phone.The emergence of digital cameras has made it easy for everyone to document anything. Take, for example, Yohannes Yanuar of the photography group Premium Mentor Series in Jakarta, who brought along his students to capture cultural moments in Tenganan. A mentor accompanies every four photography students and leads them at the site.
These photography buffs have even flown to Angkor Wat, Halimun, Sawarna, Papadayan and various other exotic destinations to practice their hobby.
But imagination and location are not always compatible, a situation that often forces photographers to prepare extra gear such as wireless remotes, monopods, tripods and even stairs to get a chance at the best moments without having to jostle against other photo hunters.
The super heavy telelens, wide fisheye, pocket camera and professional camera weighing up to 5 kilograms each are all brought to the village. And all for the sake of capturing the best moments, venting photography pleasures and documenting the very precious traditions and local wisdom that this country has to offer.
— Photos by JP/Anggara Mahendra