The word "Conservation" has been very frequently
heard occasionally, especially if it relate to Balinese
culture, which believed to be an extraordinary valuable
asset for Indonesia. At present, the government has carried
out the so-called conservation. The project consists of
establishing the long list database of Bali culture, together
with their current status of existence. Various institutions
tend to work in this model of conservation, where one-way
participation came down to the community and not the other
way around. The community often kept silence.
It is undeniable that these data are useful;
unfortunately it is not enough to be called conservation.
Bali Galang Foundation is going to take part of it from
the other point of view. The "Participative conservation"
is referred to the most difficult part of the culture called
the community. Due to the fact that the community is often
dynamic and mobile, they are beyond the reach of catalogues
and data banks. The status changed all the time. In Bali,
community is the most important part of culture. They are
continuously changed, because the culture itself is alive.
The participative conservations involves the entire Balinese
community, to work on behalf of their nature of growth,
by giving directions to their free movement, towards their
own cultural survivals. Here comes the difference, while
usual conservation deal with anything conservative, in the
opposite, here there are no attempts to introduce any limitation
to the living the culture. The act of giving directions
will involve providing training and stimulating the growth
of any found weak points, without banning the strong points.
The foundation of the participative conservation is to grow
awareness and consciousness inside the community. It was
decided that the program obsession is not to produce highly
skilled participants in the first place, but mostly to awaken
the consciousness of the community against the importance
of preserving their culture the way Bali Galang did. Bali
Galang Foundation's program is mainly to conduct pilot projects,
and setting new standards as the template and guidelines
for the next further steps, no matter which party will be
in charge. It was a process to start a snowball effect,
which in turn, community is taking efforts to do the finishing
touch in an enormous power.
Again, conservation is not a one-time activity
to conduct; continuous efforts will be required. The most
important thing to do now is to make a good platform to
start, and crystal-clear guidelines to follow. Please be
reminded to the wise words: "A good beginning is a half
Below are three packages selected from
among many fields of conservations. The reason why these
three packages chosen is based on the risk and their penetration
degree to the community. The higher the risk to extinction,
or the higher their degree of penetration toward the community,
the higher the priority to get it preserved.
Lontar, or traditional Balinese literature inscribed in
Lontar books; made from leaves of the Lontar palm. Lontar
palm leaves are cut in strips and preserved between pieces
of wood. Lontar contain mythology, historical chronicles,
religious treatises, medical prescriptions, calendar, etc.
Some works are relatively new, but others are more then
two centuries old. Actually, they are masterpieces in the
art of illustration. But more than that, they are precious
information from the past.
Some of the ancient Lontar kept by the
community inherited by their ancestors. Thousands of them
are in their critical condition of moldiness or being sold
to outsider. Not to mention about those already collected
since the Dutch government in the Gedong Kirtya in Singaraja,
the weathering of Lontar outside the institution control
are quite intense. On the other side, as an antique of course,
the selling value of an old Lontar book is getting higher
and higher all the time.
The foundation approach to this matter
divided into two major activities, the training for the
Lontar owner and the digital image scanning to be recorded
The training will teach the community about how important
it is to preserve the book of Lontar. To remind people that
Lontar does not belong to them, but a delivery package from
the ancestor for the next generation. The practical lessons
on how to keep, fix, clean, and maintain Lontar properly
will also be given.
After the training, some Lontar selected
based on their value of information and their critical condition,
will be offered for free image documentation to the CD-ROM.
With the owner permission too, the CD will be duplicated
for the purpose of education and Digital Lontar Library.
The benefit of copying the Lontar image to CD is to prevent
the original Lontar from further access, and to enable spreading
the information unlimitedly. Normally, all concerning parties
will be given a copy of the Lontar CD. But in case additional
copies required, they will be available for the cost of
the blank CD and the burning fee.
Majejahitan is an activity of creating "Rerasmen", various
forms of decorative offering, usually collectively done
by women and young girls at home, temple, or other community
gathering. The materials are mostly fresh, like leave of
the coconut tree, banana leave, various fruits and flowers,
combined and arranged with each symbolized different meanings
in to various kind of offerings for Gods. Even though offerings
are part of the daily live of every Balinese family, Majejahitan
activity slowly invaded by the other routine of modern activities.
Most of the community are now customized to be more practical
in this, by purchasing the ready made offering from the
market, or by ordering from vendor on daily basis. On the
other side, the vendors enjoyed the situation and pushing
all efforts to maximize their income by ordering parts to
other vendors, or even try to substitute the material with
the more economical and of course lower quality of product.
At present we can purchase Rerasmen of some kind, made of
printed piece of cloth, while the original usually carefully
woven from coconut leave or palm leave combined with banana
leaf with almost similar color.
The Rerasmen, esthetically, is a masterpiece
of art that can compete the beauty of Japanese Ikebana,
or Origami. The luxury editions of literature for Ikebana
and Origami were found worldwide but not Majejahitan or
Rerasmen. Morally, Majejahitan activity is full of high
spiritual values; the deep concentration and the diligence
are believed to be an integrated part of the worship to
God. The mental bound between the young girls and their
mother during the Majejahitan is considered moral fences
against bad influences from the outside.
Once the community reminded to this high
value of Majejahitan, there will be no question on the conservation.
Mageguritan is an activity of singing Geguritan in the Balinese
culture. The Geguritan is a collection of traditional lyrics
of wisdom, usually classic, some have been written centuries
ago on the ancient Lontar books in Kawi or old Javanese
language. Singing the Geguritan is not easy. There are many
kind of Geguritan based on the way it have to be sang, the
intonation, the contents, etc. Ideally, one session of Mageguritan
conducted by two persons, one will do the singing, while
the other read or tells the meaning in Balinese language
shortly afterwards. Pair by pair takes turn through cycles
usually until late in the night. Conservation of the Geguritan
is not hard, just copy the Lontar book or retypes the literature
in to computers and save it into CD, but that is not the
case. Conservation of the Mageguritan activity is not that
easy. Balinese as one among other ethnic community in Indonesia
is facing the hard decision to let the younger generation
to speak the national language as it is used in formal schools.
On the other side, parents realize, there are nothing could
replace the way Geguritan brings heavenly breeze of inspiration.
The gathering of several individual who had the same feeling
of heart, each willing to find some peace of mind from spiritual
enlightenment, was now seldom seen nor heard.
The conservation is aimed to fill the gap
in between these generations. Training will be given; competition
will be conducted, all with heavy inside-out arrangement
from the Geguritan experts, spiritual leaders, and education
Those three programs are selected by Bali Galang Foundation
to be implemented as soon as possible. Within the helping
hand of parties understood the importance of saving the
heritage of precious value, also with the participation
of the whole community, nothing is impossible to achieve.
None of them would be able to generate money instantly,
but the strength of potential raised from these activities
will be more then anything money can buy.
Denpasar 8 April 2001,
The Bali Galang Foundation,