One Day

One Day

I Ketut Sandi is a Pecalang (traditional village security officer) who helps protect the public and ensure that Hindu ceremonies run smoothly.

In Banjar Aseman Kawan, Ketut lives with his wife, Ni Komang Anis, and their children, Agus Edo Putra Sandika, 13, and I Made Danu Putra Sandika, 6. He shared his day with The Bali Times

My day begins at 6am, when I get up and have a shower. After that, I have breakfast with my family, around 6:30am. I get ready to go to my job at an electronics shop, but in any given moment, the Bendesa Adat, the head of the village, may call for the pecalang. Then it’s my duty to join the other pecalang and await orders from the Bendesa Adat.

Pecalang formed in the villages because the Bali government was having security trouble. The Bendesa Adat proposed the creation of a security organization for the villages. That security organization is now called Pecalang Desa Adat Padonan.

The function of the pecalang at the time was to help secure the Hindu ceremonies at the temples. Back then, in my village, the pecalang consisted of only two people: I Ketut Sukarata and me.

Before we started, the regional government first gave us a weeklong course in security education at the regional government office. Then we were inaugurated in Padonan village, along with the Bendesa Adat. After that, the Bendesa Adat recruited one to two pecalang from every banjar in Padonan village. So the total pecalang now is 13 for the nine banjars. The function of the pecalang is to stand by every Hindu ceremony, including Odalan, Ngaben Ngerit (death ceremony), Nyepi, Melasti (the holy ceremony) and to control traffic for each ceremony.

The head of the village equips each pecalang with accessories, such as the uniform, the keris (traditional sword) and a walky-talky for communicating. For a simple pecalang, the salary is Rp15,000 (US$1.60) per day. But different villages require different duties of pecalangs, so the salaries vary.

At Nyepi (Hindu Day of Silence), for example, all of the pecalang work from 7am until 12am, walking around the village, watching over people and prohibiting them from doing anything. At Odalan, a temple pecalang works full days until the Odalan in the temples are carried out. The work is difficult when there is a Ngaben Ngerit ceremony because the pecalang must work longer hours.

In places where the potential for danger is greater, like Legian, Kuta, Sanur and other places near the beach, the local heads of those villages must employ pecalang on a daily basis. Pecalang in those places controls the areas every day from 8am until midnight. Pecalang catch people trying to make love on the beach and suspicious people who are walking around after 11pm. Pecalang like protecting the public from dangerous situations.

Pecalang do not only protect the villages. When the regional and central governments are in need of additional help in security, pecalang are always ready to team up for special assignments in order to provide people with protection.

I very much enjoy being a pecalang because I can serve my village and protect my neighbors from terrible and dangerous situations. Not only that: I also feel that being a pecalang allows me to serve God because I have to take part in the ceremonies in order to secure them. Additionally, I am proud to be a member of the pecalang because it’s one security organization that you can only find in Bali.

On a typical day, I will return home at 6pm and spend time with my family, look after my boarding house and encourage my child to study. I pray before I go to bed, at 9pm or 10pm. Then I wake up in the morning to participate in my daily routine. But if the Bendesa Adat calls me, I will be prepared to assume my duties as a pecalang once again.

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