Barong dance is Bali’s most popular Balinese dance, which usually takes place during the Temple Festival. But now travelers can view this event as the entertainment show, but still before the show starts with a ritual procession as well as Kecak Dance.
Barong is a character in Bali’s mythology. In the mythological traditions of Bali he is the King of Spirits, the leader of the hosts of good, and enemy of Rangda. Banas Pati Rajah is the fourth “brother” or spirit child to guide a child during its entire life.
The spirit that animates Barong is Banas Pati Rajah. He is often a lion as a protectionist, and the traditional performances of his battles against Rangda are popular parts of Balinese culture.
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Two monkeys are often portrayed by the Barong. The Barong is the Balinese villages ‘ magical protector. As “Lord of the forest” in the unending struggle between good and evil, with a fantastic fanged mask and long mane, he is the opposite of Rangda the witch who rule over the spirits of darkness.
The Barong (there are many types, including barong macan, barong ket, and barong bangkal) wander from door to door (nglawang) during the Galungan Kuningan festivals, purifying the territory of evil influences.
The Barong and Kris dance, like the kecak dance, is a struggle between good and evil spirits. Barong can take different forms, but in this dance Barong Keket, the most holy of the Barongs, takes the form of dance.
The Barong Keket is an odd creature, half shaggy dog, half lion, and is played like a circus clown-horse by two men. His opponent is Rangda’s witch.
The struggle between Barong and Rangda is also the subject of traditional tales, usually carried out in the temple of the dead.
The most famous is Calonarang’s story, a widow from Dirah who’s furious because she can’t find her daughter Ratna Manggali’s suitable husband. All eligible young men are afraid of her black magic, so by wreaking havoc over Daha’s kingdom she gets revenge.
Erlangga, the king, is trying to punish her, but all his attempts are failing. She kills all the soldiers to destroy her that he sends. Rangda then decides to wreck Daha.
She summons all her disciples to present offerings of dead flesh to Durga, the goddess of death, in the evening they go to the Setra Gendrainayu cemetery. Durga agrees with the destruction, despite warning the witch not to enter Daha city.
But the witch doesn’t listen to the advice of Durga and grubug (a plague) hits the Kingdom soon, and the villages quickly become cemeteries and people are dying even before they can bury their dead. Everywhere the bodies are scattered and the stench is unbearable.
Mpu Bharadah is the only person who can defeat the witch.
One day Bharadah sent Bahula, his disciple, to steal the magic weapon of Calonarang. Bahula pretends to ask for the hand of Ratna Manggali in marriage, and while the witch is away, with the help of Ratna Manggali, Bahula steals the magic weapon.
Then he is giving his teacher Bharadah the stolen weapon. The weapon turns out to be a manuscript containing Calonarang’s upside-down key to ultimate release (moksa).
To challenge the witch, Bharadah goes to Daha. She is defeated with the Barong’s help. She asks to be released from her curse and purified before she gets killed.