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Basic Building
Block of
Balinese Society


Banjar is Balinese term for their place to run social activity and ceremony. Banjar is divided into two parts, first is Banjar Adat and second is Banjar Administrative.

Banjar adat - small communities bound by religion and a local brand of communalism. As a traditional institution, the Banjar is ideally autonomous of the state and functions primarily to serve its members communal and religion needs.

Banjar administration - represents the government in Banjar level. It takes care all of the affairs of state in the smallest area.

Officially, the Banjar has complete autonomy and all matters relating to the Banjar administration and the community it serves should ideally require the agreement of the Kelihan Banjar, the head of the Banjar, in order to proceed. But in the real world, the Banjar is well integrated into the affairs of state - a rather unavoidable predicament considering that the Banjar is the most basic building block of the whole of the Balinese society. For example, development programs are destined to fail if they lack support at the Banjar level. The Banjar, therefore, is the most important link between the government and the Balinese.

Banjars are like tiny screw in the huge engine. If one of the screws comes loose, the whole engine will start to fail.

When the Era of reform has come since 1998, many things become better, but many things fall worst in Indonesia. Considering the Bajar's role in ensuring social cohesion in Bali, how is this traditional institution taking part in the social and cultural changes that are currently underway?

After all, the Banjar has survived and adopted to many changes over the past thirty years- the implementation of new development programs, new security measures, the influx of foreign cultures and values via tourism, the use of its lands for construction projects, etc. but simply continuing to exist, many assert, is not the issue. The matter at hand is how to bolster the authority of the Banjar as a traditional institution vis-a-vis that of the state.


At the head of the Banjar administration (dinas) is the kelihan dinas, who represent the Banjar to the sub-district and district-level branches of government and the head of Banjar adat is the kelihan adat who has responsible for all matters of traditional nature, such as weddings, cremation, temple ceremonies, and what may not be done according to tradition. The term of kelihan adat is depended on the traditional custom (awig-awig).

The post of the kelihan adat is officially parallel- neither above nor below-to that of the kelihan dinas that is why kelihan dinas can sometimes double as kelihan adat. The Banjar also includes several community groups, such as the PKK (Pembinaan Keluarga Sejahtera: Maintenance of Family Welfare) and the ST (Sekehe Teruna: Youth Organization). In the name of women development, the New Order government established PKK all over Indonesia and it was in seventies that the institution became integrated into banjars. Its main activities are sewing and cooking classes. Whilst it falls under the auspices of the Banjar, the PKK is no strictly a traditional Balinese community organization.

Like the PKK, the ST is also often made responsible for implementing development programs- in this case one that relates to youth. The majority of STs, however are most active in Galungan and its anniversary, when they convene bazaars or charity days to raise funds for community coffers.

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