Maintaining the Originality of the Tenganan Pegringsingan Traditional Village

Bali was known for it’s strong culture and also known as the Island of the Gods, where it became an attraction for many foreigners. But in this new era, keeping those communities to pay attention to the culture and tradition was not easy.

Tenganan Village is one of the three villages of Bali Aga, a traditional village in Bali that still maintains it’s traditions, both from the lifestyle of the community. Forms of large buildings and yards, building layout to the location of the temple are made by following traditional rules that have been maintained from generation to generation.

02-Menjaga Desa Adat Tenganan Pegringsingan

The two monuments in the village represent that this village, which is between two hills, existed in the early 11th century. At that time, Tenganan Village became a holy place where people from other villages came and prayed. Physically, in this traditional village, there is a temple or holy place that was believed as a relic of the Megalithic era. The uniqueness of this village was under the management system which is governed by the community itself. Leadership in Tenganan was not elected by the community, but determined based on the age level of the marriage. Residents who married earlier had a greater chance to become the head of custom.

According to I Putu Wiadnyana, the head of tourism management for Tenganan Pegringsingan Village, residents who are married to fellow Tenganans are required to become members of the Kram Deso, a core institution in the village governance that at certain levels functions as the tradition head. “Apart from the community order, we also have several temples in the Parahyangan system, which have distinctive and unique structures and shapes. Pura Yasanti, for example, has a stone throne for worship. We also don’t know about the level structure”, Wiadnyana explained.

Tenganan residents routinely carry out various traditional ceremonies. One of them was a ceremony to increase the status of children to adults. If a man marries before going through the maturity ceremony, he will be excluded from the membership of the native Tenganan. “We impose various discipline according to the mistake. For example, the logging activity was very strict, you have to ask for a permit. If it is proven that the residents are doing illegal logging, they will be fined and dismissed from Krama Deso because they are considered stealing”, explained Wiadnyana.

This village, which is located in Manggis District, Karangasem, implements a community grouping system based on their location. The local community live in the West or Bedauh, meanwhile foreigners and migrants live in the Bedangin or East area. Citizens between groups may interact, but immigrants and residents who have been expelled were not allowed to buy or own land in Tenganan.

Since the 1900s, travelers have come to the village because they are attracted by their traditions. “We still think that tourism is the core of this village’s authenticity. That’s why we don’t polish ourselves to be a tourist spot, living by just what it is. What arises is a sense of responsibility to maintain the sanitation of the environment and the desire to organize village roads including preparing a room so that visitors may feel comfortable and safe”, said Wiadnyana.

“The government then provided assistance by setting up stands to sell souvenirs and Pegringsingan cloth, which are only authentic made in this village. Before the pandemic, many villagers were selling lontar and cloth throughout the village, but now not anymore. Income from tourism plays a big role. Even though they do not apply for tickets, the funds from the donation system alone are quite widely used to finance village activities. “There is clearly a pandemic impact, some activities must be simplified according to current conditions and concerns”, he continued.

The sense of belonging to continue and develop tourism within the Tenganan tradition continues. “We hope that tourism will recover soon. We would like to have an official online channel to provide information about this village complete with a ceremonial calendar. Moreover, we also want to build physical facilities in the form of houses built using the original Tenganan materials, techniques and furniture. The land has been prepared but it takes funds around 200-300 million IDR to make it happen”, concluded Wiadnyana.