Tenganan Pegringsingan Village is locaed in Karangasem, about 3 hour drive from the capital of Bali, Denpasar. On the way heading there, you will go through beachside road with beautiful panorama around it. Tenganan Pegringsingan is very famous for its “kamen” (Balinese sarong), unique culture, and tradition.
Kamen Gringsing is a kind of kamen which is highly rated in Bali because of its beauty, materials, and complicated making process. In this village you can find kamen gringsing easily but also with a high price. That price is actually quite reasonable since the coloring process of this traditional cloth could takes years until finish. There are three dominant colors in every kamen; red, yellow or white, and black. The color of red is made from the root bark of a noni tree; yellow is from hazelnut and black is from a kind of grass. Gringsing is derived from word “gring” means “ill” and “sing” which means “not,” so it could be said that the meaning of gringsing is “not ill.” This meaning is also related to balance of universe elements symbolized in the kamen. Yellow is for symbolizing air, meanwhile red is for fire, and black is for water. If one of these elements in human body is disturbed, illness will occur. It means that human should also keep the elements of nature to balance the “health” of the universe.
Reject the Levy
Back then, when Tenganan Pegringsingan began to attract a lot of tourists, Karangasem Government suddenly imposed tourism levies from this village. Extortions from various parties at that time were firmly rejected because it was imposed without villagers’ agreement as the owner of the village.
When it was the time for depositing levy, the government sent a message for the headman of village, but it was replied by again a firm rejection stated that the villagers did not accept that kind of unilateral policy. It did not stop there, the unsatisfied government called the headman into their office to ask further about the matter.
However, the headman which was the representative of the village did not budge. When the government stated that the levies were an obligation and were based on local regulations, he simply asked back to the government asking what contribution had the government given to the village; nothing. Until now, the villagers of Tenganan Pegringsingan still free of extortions and levies because they firmly fight for the right of the land they own.
Heedless of Caste
The uniqueness of this village is their heedless of caste. Even though now caste is not really important anymore, Balinese society actually still use this social system, inherited from the ancient kingdom era. However, in Tenganan Pegringsingan they do not use this social system or it could be said that all of the villagers have equal social status.
Moreover, the residents of this village have a bit different tradition from the other Balinese. When Bali celebrates Nyepi and the entire island is in total silent, the residents of this village do their activity normally. For them, the meaning of Nyepi is peace, a day for self reflection. They will do their routine like cooking, weaving Gringsing, vending, or farming normally but without noise. However, the difference that they practice is actually respected by the other Balinese. Indeed, this is the real practice of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity) which becomes the motto of Indonesia.
Every inch of the land, from the house, forest, farm, or rice field is owned by the village not personal. This is the main rule of this village. For a new couple, a house is already provided for them. They will be given 3 months to be independent, away from their parents. After that, they would be asked to choose a place or land around the village to stay and live their new life.
With this pattern of land owning, Tenganan Pegringsingan Village is free from outsiders’ intervention. Privatization from outsiders is totally forbidden which makes the originality of the village is well maintained. In this village, forest or land is not for sale for anyone because it is the property of their village and they must conserve it.
If you visit Tenganan Pegringsingan, you will find the form of true Balinese village; the houses are arranged neatly, the paths of the village are clean, and the people are polite. You will also see the buildings of this village are still made from dirt and the surroundings are very natural. Children’s rides like seesaw or ferris wheel is made from wood. Visiting Tenganan Pegringsingan is like coming back to ancient Bali; a unique experience that you will not get in the other places.