Saturday, January 1 2022, signified a historic day in Bali with the opening ceremony of the Bali Poleng 2022 movement. The event officially opened the island-wide collective prayer and Kul-Kul sounding which took place January 2, 2022. It was attended by 108 Bajra (Priests Association), heads of the MDA (Majelis Desa Adat, or Village Assembly of Bali), Balinese and Javanese royal families and foreign consuls, held at Pura Samuan Tiga, Gianyar, Bali’s third largest temple. A day of prayer open to people of all faiths and nationalities, Bali Poleng 2022 offered a unique opportunity to empower the new year with a unison of hearts and minds.

On Sunday, 2 January, at Hotel Tugu Bali in Canggu, people gathered in the late afternoon. A beautiful music performance was followed by a ceremony and prayer led by Balinese priest Ketut Susila. An enthusiastic collective beating of the Kul-Kul, the traditional wooden bell, closed the occasion. Meanwhile in Banjar Dawan, Klungkung, Nusa Dua, Bangli, Uluwatu, Singaraja, at Villa Gaia Retreat Center, Ubud and Waterbom Park Kuta groups focused powerful intention through prayer, ceremony and sounding the Kul-Kul.

Bali Poleng 2022 was organized by 108 Bajra, a Balinese religious organization of 108 high priests and priestesses representing thirty of the largest temples on the island. Established in 2014, 108 Bajra’s objectives are to uphold the spiritual, traditional and cultural values and practices to help fortify the island’s sacred essence constantly threatened by globalisation. In addition, Bali Poleng aims to elevate the island’s spiritual atmosphere, bringing a swift finale to the pandemic and raising hopes for a brighter collective future while creating a distinct sense of unity.

It’s name is dervied from the Kain Poleng, the chequered black, white and grey cloth seen wrapped around trees, statues and shrines, and a part of the traditional dress code worn during ceremonies. White is symbolic of positive universal forces and black for negative. According to the Balinese philosophy of Rwa Bhineda, the universe is comprised of two equal and opposing forces. Both must be present to maintain cosmic balance. To help achieve a sense of unity during Bali Poleng 2022, 108 Bajra requested participants wear poleng in the form of a shirt, scarf or sarong.

Humanity is immersed in universal cycles. The Balinese Hindu-Buddhist belief system states that we are at the centre of the great cosmic balance. The balance of Rwa Bhineda and between Buana Agung (the macrocosmos) and Buana Alit (the microcosmos) represented by the human body which mirrors the universe. As above, so below. When catastrophe strikes Bali, the Balinese believe that something, somewhere, has gone out of balance between the universal forces of good and evil. The cosmic disorder reflecting the turmoil currently witnessed on earth is Roga Sangara Bumi. The chaos is attributed to the Kali Yuga era, the last of four ages, where humanity and spirituality are in the most significant period of separation.

The fate of the earth’s evolution is determined by universe-scale events that have created a pattern of climate extremes leading to mass extinctions. In the process, organisms have been superseded by more efficient organisms as galactic cosmic rays directly affect the DNA codes that carry the blueprints of life. Enormous fluctuations in terrestrial environments have repeatedly occurred in a never-ending cycle of life and death. Reincarnation is a central aspect within the Balinese culture, known as Punarbawa. The process of birth, life, death, and rebirth is eternal.

Balinese prayer, ritual and ceremony are local, global and universal phenomena to harmonise the cosmic forces at the source of creation. Rituals for individual and collective cleansing function on the micro and macro levels. From minor offerings to the most elaborate ceremonies, the Balinese offer humanity an insight into nature’s gift of alchemy. What may appear exotic and mysterious, ritual is a sacred practice and a cooperative fundamental of the omnipotent forces. Alchemy is a empowering practice to merge with nature from the simplest prayer to a multifaceted, complex ritual.

The Balinese culture is unique within the global context. Its sacred philosophies help explain the phenomenon of life allowing deeper insights to our experience and predicaments. This is especially relevant during the pandemic when doubt and confusion has forced us to reflect upon our actions. Balinese culture gifts the global community a vast array of interactive sacred natural systems. When we share the light of prayer and ceremony, we feel nearer to a greater external force and one another. The absolute power of prayer is gratitude in the form of trust, honesty, acceptance and love.

Internationally renowned Bali as a leading global spiritual destination, 108 Bajra believe Bali plays an essential role in creating a significant spiritual action to inspire the rest of the world. 108 Bajra Priests envisions Bali Poleng as part of an annual cultural tradition to initiate a National Poleng Day as part of the Indonesian tourism calendar. Plans include highlighting and featuring each regency’s Kecak dances so that Bali Poleng 2023 may also include island-wide Kecak dancing. Held on the day of the new moon, a fresh beginning and the start of another lunar cycle, Bali Poleng 2022 with the uplifting of prayer, ceremony, and the Kul-Kul send positive repercussions around the world.

In 1971 John Lennon inspired the world with his iconic song ‘Imagine’. He encouraged us to dream of a world of peace without materialism and borders separating nations. The western mindset is overdue for a revolution in thinking and the reorientation from the material to the spiritual path. Throughout history, the collective mind has helped shape our identity and destiny. The old world paradigm narrative which dominates popular consciousness, derived from the scarcity mindset, does not represent who we are or acknowledge our extraordinary powers. With intent, we may create an empowering new narrative inspiring our evolutionary process and future generations. Through ceremony and prayer, we may all play a meaningful part.

“And one day you will see. The wind will drop, the waters will calm and you will see that grace has been following you all along.” Richard Rudd 

During Bali Poleng 2022 108 Bajra will conduct ceremonies at each of the thirty Balinese high temples around the island with the placement and provision of poleng cloths. The next ceremony is at  Pura Pesimpenan Batur Aya Tumbu, Karangasem 16 January 2022.  Next year Bali Poleng 2023 will be held 21 January.

Contact Bali Poleng 2022: Dewa Puja Suradnya +62 877 0133 6997

IG Hashtags: #balipoleng2022  & #balipolengclick

Richard Horstman

Richard Horstman

NOW! Bali Art Columnist, Richard Horstman, during the past decade has been contributing to national newspapers writing about art and culture. He is passionate about observing and reporting on developments in the local art and creative infrastructure, and the exciting emerging talent that is flourishing in Bali. IG: @lifeasartasia