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Jakarta Post

The colorful Ngarebeg ritual

Mon, August 6, 2018   /   02:43 pm
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    Balinese boys paint their bodies prior to the Ngerebeg ritual in Tegalalang village, Gianyar district, Bali. JP/Agung Parameswara

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    Boys color their bodies before joining the Ngerebeg ritual in Tegalalang village, Gianyar district, Bali. JP/Agung Parameswara

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    A Balinese man rides a motorcycle with his children to join the Ngerebeg ritual. JP/Agung Parameswara

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    Young Balinese men ride a motorcycle. JP/Agung Parameswara

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    Young men paint their bodies black and white before joining the Ngerebeg ritual at Duur Bingin temple. JP/Agung Parameswara

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    Two boys pray while taking part in the Ngerebeg ritual. JP/Agung Parameswara

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    Young villagers walk around their village with their bodies painted. JP/Agung Parameswara

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    After finishing the ritual, the villagers wash the paint off their bodies at a spring. JP/Agung Parameswara

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    Young people wash their hair and bodies to clean off paint after the Ngarebeg ritual. JP/Agung Parameswara

Agung Parameswara


One morning, 14-year-old Kadek Dian Permana gathered his friends at a house in Tegalalang village, Bali. He appeared to be excited to see a man color his body with white paint. He was one of thousands of children and teenagers who decorated their faces and bodies in a Halloween style as part of an ancient parade known as the Ngerebeg ritual.


“Since I was 3, I have not missed this event,” Kadek said. “This is a part of our tradition. We are here sincerely for Ngayah, the main part of the tradition. Besides, this event is a place to show the community our creativity and art.”


A man and his two sons reached the Duur Bingin temple, which was decorated with tall penjor (decorated bamboo poles) and colorful banners on its outer walls. That particular day was the peak of the temple’s odalan festival, a short celebration that takes place every six months.


The Duur Bingin temple, located in Tegalalang village, Gianyar district, has a unique ritual called Ngareeg, which this year fell on July 4.


The main part of the ritual was a street parade involving local boys and male teenagers from the temple’s congregation.


Their faces and upper torsos were painted in bright colors to resemble supernatural beings and demons.

The tradition began when local ruler Dalem Made Tjokorda Ketut Segara promised to organize a parade to protect the village from natural disasters. Villagers today believe in the existence of 288 wong samar (invisible creatures) and so they bring offerings to these creatures to acknolwedge them.


The ritual began with a gathering at the temple for a communal prayer, followed by a parade at 12 p.m., with participants walking for 10 kilometers around the village.


Each participant brought a bamboo stick or a palm branch decorated with woven coconut leaves.

At the end of the parade, participants raced to the village’s springs, where they bathed and washed away their body paint. [yan]