A Brief Explanation of “Banjar”

The Banjar is the local community that applicate the traditional laws, each area of Bali has its own Banjar which is supervised by the representative chiefs of each family living in the area. The leader is elected and a medium approves or not his nomination speaking in the name of Gods. They commonly meet every month to discuss different matters: they determine dates for the local religious event, they collect money for ceremonies and allocate money for temple maintenance. They also have a say on properties transaction. A common place is shared in a Banjar and used as a common room as well as a meeting room for the gatherings.

Photo of Bale Banjar, Bali.

Every married man has to belong to a Banjar. Every ceremony has to be approved by the Banjar and different Banjar can split the organization of ceremonies throughout the year. When it comes to taking a decision it has to be unanimous among the families. Since 1979 the Banjar is an official Indonesian structure, the lowest and more local one.

Photo of Bale Kulkul  & Bale Banjar in 1900.

Whereas the Banjar represented a physical space in the past, nowadays two Banjar can share an area, and the term Banjar represents more the group of people that compounds it. Every member of a Banjar has responsibilities and has to help the community. A Banjar is also a keeper of traditions: they watch that local people are hired rather than foreigners, regulate the traffic when there are ceremonies and are sometimes intermediary in some conflicts.