Welcoming Gods with ‘Rejang’ dance in Indonesia
By Agung Parameswara THE JAKARTA POST Mon January 28, 2019
Dance across the village: The rejang dancers begin their performance from Bale Gede to Jasri village’s temple yard. JP/Agung Parameswara
A day after Bali celebrated Kuningan, 31 girls were preparing to welcome the gods with their sacred rejang dance at Jasri village, Abang regency, Karangasem regency.
Garden on my head: A dancer is fitted with a headdress made of woven young coconut leaves called gelungan and decorated with flowers. JP/Agung Parameswara
Among the dancers was a 23-year-old hotel employee, Murniasih. She donned a traditional dress embellished with silver hems and a green and yellow shawl. Her headgear was made of woven coconut leaves adorned with white and yellow flowers.
“Rejang is a dance to greet the gods that come down to the Earth,” Murniasih said.
“We as young women readily ngayah [perform the duty] with utmost sincerity during a three-day ceremony at the village hall of Bale Agung.”
The dancers required no prior training. They believe the spirit of ngayah would guide them to perform the dance movements harmoniously.
Accompanied by slow gamelan tunes, Murniasih and 30 fellow dancers performed in a line and then a circle. Surrounded by villagers who watch them, the dancers began their performance from Bale Gede before proceeding to the temple yard.
Aside from Jasri village, scores of old villages in Abang regency also held rejang dance performances. Each village developed its own versions of rejang dance, ornaments and attire.
However, all share the same hope that the sacred dance would guide the gods to be “present” and to bestow compassion, blessings and benevolence on them.
Dedication: Young women prepare to take part in the sacred rejang dance at Jasri village, Abang district, Karangasem regency, which is held a day after Bali observes Kuningan. JP/ Agung Parameswara
Waiting for the gods: The dancers get ready to grace the presence of the gods with their sacred rejang dance. JP/Agung Parameswara
Spirit within: The dancers believe the presence of the gods and their ngayah (dedication) spirit will guide them to perform the routine harmoniously despite not having undergone prior training. JP/Agung Parameswara