Hindu community in Bali has a unique performing art known as Calonarang. The performing art poses a dance-drama whose artists should master the elements of dance, music and vocal. A troupe is supported by tens of artists. Interestingly, almost all the dancers consist of ‘selected’ artists. In other words, they have superior talent, so that every performance can draw the attention of spectators.
Frequently, it is also graced by the contest of shakti power between the dancers and people having magical powers. It is commonly carried out in the ‘invitation’ scene, where the dancers invite people to get involved in a magical power contest. It is usually done by the player dancing the Rangda effigy. In this scene, it is filled with matebekan (stabbing kris dagger in the chest) performed by the other players against the Rangda.
In this session, the performing area will usually turn magical, horrific and creepy. If the dancers have come into trance, the stabbers will stab themselves with the kris dagger. The more horrific atmosphere happens when living players are given a mantra and then act as a dead person (corpse). Afterward, the body is consecrated (as in cremation). Then, they are taken to cemetery. Mystical atmosphere is strongly felt in the show at this scene.
Calonarang is indeed a special performing art that cannot be staged arbitrarily. However, after the development of tourism, the Calonarang is also staged for tourist entertainment. However, time and type of ceremony is not made specifically. AA Gde Raka, a religious philosopher, said the Calonarang dance-drama was actually a ritual event where the sanctified effigies in the form of Rangda and Barong venerated were taken down and danced. The Calonarang itself was performed on the piodalan (temple anniversary) in the Dalem Temple and other temples. Players getting involved in the Calonarang attraction were those specifically having high spiritual knowledge and the arts.
According to him, the story of Calonarang was inseparable from the concept of rwa bhineda or basic dualism such as the quality of good and bad being always side by side. The Calonarang story was taken from a fairy tale on a widow named Walu Nateng Girah from Girah village, Kediri. Walu meant widow, Nateng (Queen) and Girah was the name of a village in Kediri, East Java. Therefore, Walu Nateng Girah meant a widow queen from Girah village. Walu Nateng Girah is a disciple of left school representing the adharma. Meanwhile, the King Airlangga is the follower of goodness representing the dharma. “It has significance that in this life good and bad qualities are inseparable,” he said.
In that struggle, none of Mpu Bharadah and Nateng Girah won symbolizing that good and bad was inseparable. The staging of Calonarang performance was not entertainment art, but due to influence of globalization, many Calonarang performances then led to profane art, too.
According to Gde Raka, the word Calonarang was derived from the word arang meaning the ash related to plague caused by Nateng Girah where the Girah village was like to have been transformed into ashes because many people were sick and died.
Calonarang performance was usually commenced with the presence of barong dance, telek dance and followed by the emergence of young ladies. The next scene told about Walu Nateng Girah and her followers practicing black magic getting involved in a struggle against the forces of King Airlangga belonging to white school. (BTN/ocha/015)
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