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Bali Traditional Games

6 July 2009

Today, children have unlimited choices of games. They have been pampered by modern games, ranging from Turtle Ninja, Kung Fu, war games and many more. These can make them stay for hours in front of television or computer. Yet, behind this ease and enjoyment, they lose some values like creativity and do not know they have traditional games.

It is said so because there is a trend where children, both in urban and rural areas, begin to leave their traditional games. Many game options have been available in the form of CD, DVD, Internet and cartoon in television. Just by CD rental or buying the cheapest one and sitting down sweetly, they could enjoy the games they like best. If the games contain competition, they will compete against machine or some times against friends. Without realizing, this may result in sight disorder where children should gaze the monitor and finally require thick glasses at an earlier age.

Advancement is not always bad. However, parents should control them to what extent those games drive a good impact. Before the presence of these modern games, there were many traditional games. They are no less interesting than the modem ones. Many children even find it attractive and make them creative.

Art parade of Bali Arts Festival 2009 has shown the treasure of traditional games. This event is just like a kaleidoscope highlighting avariety of traditional games that ever existed within the life of Balinese children. To play one of the games, children should first search for its materials by themselves in the backyard or garden. Actually, it is here where the challenge of the games begins. Sometimes, they got injury because they are unable to use a knife properly. It did not matter as intriguing power has superseded it.

Among the parade, there was a space intended for children world where they displayed some bizarre games like coconut shell clog, walking on stilts, pulling friend by the sheath of areca nut, pulling rope in-group and two-wheeled toy where its stick carried on shoulder. Meanwhile, the heavier one was gallivanting show by barong effigy.

To play the coconut shell clog, for instance, they should keep their balance well. Standing on the tips of coconut shell is not easy. Moreover, they have to maintain the harmony of steps with the pulling of rope connected to each coconut shell. When the pull and steps can go harmoniously, the player can walk faster. Balance is also entailed in walking on stilts or tajog or egrang.

This game is even riskier because the position of pedal is higher from the ground. However, when a player can operate these stilts properly it is more challenging and pleasant. The higher the pedal the more challenging it is. Walking on stilts looks like a walking long-legged heron. It would be more interesting when passing through a muddy or knee-deep watery road. These games are often put into competition related to traditional sports.

Another game requiring cooperation is pulling the sheath of areca nut. If the bean of areca nut is used by grandfathers or grandmothers for ingredient of chewing betel, the sheath of it is used by their grandchildren to make ‘a pulling vehicle’. Yellow leaf signifies it has been mature. It is time for children to take it. They just need to leave out the ribs of leaf. The main rib is not cut as it will be used to pull. One child serves as passenger while another as driver who pulls the sheath. This role is exchanged so both can have an opportunity to enjoy the ‘comfort’ of this vehicle game.

Children also put an interest in dancing barong gallivanting show. For them, it has been designed a smaller-sized barong. Therefore, before growing adult they have been introduced to art world of adult people. By performing gallivanting show like this, they will obtain experience and earn money. However, the emphasis here is not on the money, but on the experience and fun.

Actually, there are more traditional games that once lived in midst of Balinese community. We hope that Bali Arts Festival will reveal them one by one so young generation can know their traditional heritages. Maybe, having watched or played modem games they could combine with the traditional ones they have. At least, the traditional can become an alternative, as all raw materials have been available at their surroundings.

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