WHAT IS THE "BANJAR" IN BALI ?
A banjar is a community centre for a designated number of families. Anything from 20 to 500 families, known as KK (Kepala Keluarga) may make up a banjar community.
The banjar is concerned with village affairs and operates beneath a larger social structure called the kelurahan which is a division of the desa (village), and all married men in the local area are expected to become a member of the banjar and participate in all of its activities, including meetings held in the first week of every Balinese month.
The banjar will invariably have a committee made up of a head, known as klian, a secretary (sekretaris), treasurer (bendahara), and messengers known as kesinoman. Kesinoman perform the important role of relaying pertinent information to an assigned number of KK.
Anyone from any religion or belief is welcome to join the local banjar but one may be put on a waiting list and in some cases charged a joining fee. Once you are a member of a banjar, your life automatically becomes busied by all the religious ceremonies and community events the banjar is involved in. For this reason, most banjar members are Balinese Hindus.
Women and children are also banjar members and have their own committees which address particular issues. The women’s group traditionally focuses on matters such as offering making, birth control and child raising, while the youth group may have its own gamelan and dance troupe and hold events such as bazaars to earn money for the banjar.
A banjar has its own buildings for meetings and events. They normally include a main pavilion for performances, a watchtower, a kitchen, a gamelan and costume room, and a small temple. On the top of the watchtower a huge slit drum called a kulkul is hung and used to call the community to the banjar and relay other information.