Balinese life based on culture is rich in folk stories. In the past, parents always told bedtime stories to children or grandchildren to take them into a beautiful dream. Therefore, all parents on the Island of the Gods would know and could tell stories.
The theme could be very diverse, ranging from wildlife, human life up to mythology about gods. The story itself is also very simple and the figures are easily called and remembered. Interestingly, one of the prominent names in the stories can become a nickname for one of the children considering his or her characteristics and behavior resembled to that of the figure in the story.
Unfortunately, the tradition of storytelling gradually vanishes and even does not leave a single trace. The story filled with the philosophy of life is getting away from children because they prefer to enjoy modern stories, such as soap operas and animation films with uncertain messages. “Our children are now starting to lose the space where they can find a reflection, especially for children who live in urban areas,” said I Nyoman Sumandhi.
This puppeteer from Tunjuk village said the current children were no longer interested in hearing folk stories. Instead, they tended to like modern stories completely involving electronic aspects. By all means, such phenomenon had made Balinese storytelling that had been known by generation of their parents an alien, even was no longer known. “Such conditions are very unfortunate whereas Balinese storytelling can become a reflection of life,” he said.
According to the English puppeteer, the Balinese storytelling was full of life values through moral messages, good and bad deeds, attitudes, mutual assistance and character education. Such values could be delivered through storytelling. “In the storytelling activity, we can put all the messages of life to children. Today, children do not want to be told directly, so it should be inserted through stories,” he said.
There were so many folk stories having rich moral messages. For example, the story on Poor Lady and Rich Lady told the characters of the rich and the poor, Pan Balang ultimately reaped the results of his act due to laziness, cleverness of I Lutung (monkey) and many more. “Almost all the folk stories in Bali have a directive to be getting better,” he said.
Similar opinion was also revealed by Made Sidia, a lecturer in the Puppetry Department, the Indonesian Institute of the Arts (ISI) Denpasar. This man from Gianyar also said that children were now very busy with their activities, while parents were too busy and had contribution to the loss of storytelling tradition. More sadly, some parents did not know about storytelling, so that they were more concerned with the academic aspects than character building contained in the folk stories. “Education on moral values should be given to children,” he reminded.
Nyoman Sumandhi and Made Sidia then agreed if the storytelling that had once become a popular activity in the past could be incorporated into the school lessons through local content. Aside from educating mentally, this lesson also served as a kind of cultural preservation that had now become the cornerstone of tourism. (BTN/015)