What is Pecalang?

Published: 30th July 2010
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Every village in Bali has pecalang. The traditional guards maintain village security and manage traffic flows during religious and customary ceremonies. They work voluntarily and are not paid wages. Pecalang were created to maintain the security of the village. In practice, they work hand in hand with hansip (security officers of the administrative village). In order to call members of the village for an emergency, about a three to four meter high tower stands in the village in which three kulkuls (split wooden drums) are housed. Kulkuls are beaten in certain ways according to the message that needs to be communicated; all villagers know the codes for fire, theft, riot and other emergency situations.

Other villages also respond to a village's ask for help by beating their kulkuls in the appropriate fashion. The drums therefore function as both intra and inter-village communication. In true Balinese fashion, the costumes worn by the pecalang demonstrate a harmony of symbolism in terms of design and accessories. Commonly, the costumes consist of chessboard-like sarong, white shirt, black waistcoat and headband completed with keris (a traditional dagger) affixed on the back. The checked motif represents the opposition of good and evil represented by white and black.

The traditional black and white sarongs can be seen in numerous ceremonies and on statues throughout Bali. The positioning of the keris at the back also represents the pecalang's approach to peace-keeping - persuasive and passive rather than aggressive. So to speak, Pecalang have an significant role in maintaining peace and security, in this Island of Gods.

When the guest of villa Annora is planning to have a party at the villa, she/he must consult with the villa manager or staffs so that they can ask permission to local pecalang or Banjar. Then they will provide a permit and security at the D-day.

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