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Rejang Dewa: A Sacred Dance to Welcome Gods’ Arrival

Rejang Dewa A Sacred Dance to Welcome Gods ArrivalLargely, the dances existing in Bali do not only serve as an entertaining art, but also as ritual dance devoted to gods. Therefore, it is not surprising if the dances in Bali are mostly performed in temples, including the Rejang Dance. This dance has many variants such as the Rejang Renteng, Rejang Bengkel, Rejang Ayodpadi, Rejang Galuh, Rejang Dewa, Rejang Palak, Rejang Mebingin, Rejang Makitut, Rejang Haja and Rejang Negara. In Balinese community, the most popularly staged rejang dance is the Rejang Dewa. Rejang Dewa is a ritual dance of the Balinese community. It is a sacred presentation to welcome and entertain the gods coming down from heaven to earth. Among the Balinese Hindu community, the Rejang Dewa dance is staged in the deva yajña ritual such as temple anniversary or piodalan.  

In contrast to the Sanghyang Dance denoting the dance of the gods-goddesses as well as other holy spirits entering into the body of the dancers, the Rejang Dewa is a sacred offering to gods. During the temple ceremony, gods are invited through mantra and puja to come down from heaven, and then abide in the sacred objects like Pratima or effigy. To welcome and cheer the arrival of the gods, people then perform Rejang Dewa dance. Through the dance, people express their sincere gratitude to gods for their willingness to come down to earth.
Rejang Dewa dance is performed by female dancers usually around a holy place or shrine, where the effigies are placed. The Rejang Dewa dancers generally put on the attires dominated by white and yellow colors with a headdress made of materials such as young coconut leaves. “White is a symbol of purity, while yellow is sacred just like the moon and the sun. Most of the sacred dances put on the attires definitely dominated by white and yellow colors,” said Kadek Suartaya, a lecturer in Philosophy and Art Criticism, in the Indonesia Institute of the Arts (ISI) Denpasar when met not long ago.

In performing the Rejang Dewa dance, the dancers usually make a circle in the temple or shrine courtyard. Sometimes, the dancers carry out this dance while holding hands. As a welcoming dance to gods, aside from having to be performed in sacred place like a temple, it also has the other requirements. “In the context of sacredness, Rejang Dewa dance must be danced by a girl who has not got their period yet. In the Balinese belief, if the Rejang Dewa dance is performed by women who have got their menstruation, gods and goddess will not be willing to come down to earth. This also applies to the other wali dance such as the Sanghyang dance. Hence, most of the dancers performing this dance remain at elementary school,” he added.

In terms of the type of the movement, the Rejang Dewa is said to be quite simple, while the tempo of its movement is slow and tender. Dominant movements used in the Rejang Dewa dance is ngembat and ngelikas or left and right movements performed while moving forward slowly. When dancing, the dancers of Rejang Dewa generally have no dialogue or singing. Rejang Dewa dance is generally accompanied by gamelan music, although there are also accompanied by tembang or Song. Gamelan accompaniment of the Rejang Dewa dance in general is Gong Kebyar gamelan music.
Rejang Dewa dance is a ritual dance whose performance is always associated with ritual, where it is mainly performed in the Deva Yajña ritual in temple. It is commonly performed in the temple outermost courtyard located closer to the placement of ritual oblations or the other places considered to be sacred. (BTN/sak)

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