In the dance performance Rejang Sandat Ratu Segara, 1800 dancers participated. The event took place near the Tanah Lot temple on August 18th, a Saturday.
After the performance concluded, many dancers went into a trance. Even several days later, the girls continued to lose consciousness in schools until August 27th.
Pvt. Mia Devi Sri Astiti, a 14-year-old 9th-grade student who went into a trance immediately after the performance, shared details of the events that happened to her at school. Mia recounted that before entering the trance, she saw the figure of a beautiful woman dressed in green dancing in front of her in the classroom, and this woman invited her to dance together. Mia says that she declined, and after that, she fell unconscious.
"I felt dizzy, wanted to cry, and then I don't remember anything else. I saw a woman in clothing similar to what the bupati (district chief of Tabanan) wears during the temple dance," Mia says.
Mia adds that before falling asleep at night, she remembers the figure of this beautiful woman and hears the sound of the gamelan orchestra.
Mia's father, I Made Suwedji, admits he panicked when he saw his daughter in a trance. Several friends, teachers, and relatives tried to calm Mia down, but nothing worked. It is reported that Mia's strength during the trance exceeded that of several adults.
Suwedji said that if his daughter's condition, falling into a trance for three days, doesn't improve, he will ask Bupati Eka to take responsibility as the organizer of the mass dance.
The head of the school in the village of Slemadeg, where Mia studies - Putu Arka Budjanga - says that 25 students from his school participated in the mass dance. After the performance, 7 of them went into a trance. This happened on August 20th right at the school.
"They were screaming hysterically during the offering ceremony at the school temple," the principal reported.
The students who went into a trance heard the gamelan and the singing of Ratu Segara Ni Roro Kidul, just like when they were dancing at Tanah Lot.
"We became concerned about the condition of the students who couldn't stop going into a trance. Eventually, we went to the Pura Luhur Tanah Lot temple to conduct the mepamit ceremony, a farewell ceremony."
The head of another school in Kediri, Dewa Nyoman Sardjana, also confirmed cases of trance in his institution. The unconsciousness occurred among students who participated in the dance in honor of the goddess Roro Kidul. There were a total of 5 such girls.
In his opinion, the students experienced trance due to a magical aura. "This will be a lesson for the future, that next time we will need more qualified guidance and the ceremony should be complete to prevent such things from happening," Sardjana believes.
The parents of Ni Putu Anisa Prema Anjani from Kediri, who also went into a trance, believe that the responsibility for what happened should fall on the regent's bupati of Tabanan as the event organizer. They think that a sacred dance should not be held just anywhere; it should only take place within a temple.
"If the dance is held in the temple, the priest can prepare all the ceremonial elements to ensure it is complete and such a thing doesn't happen."
Sudarmi says that his daughter often hears faint singing and the sound of the gamelan, just like during the memorable performance, and in addition, Anisa often asks to dance again at Tanah Lot.
Earlier, the bupati of the Tabanan district, Eka, stated that the performance would help the younger generation feel even more love and respect for Balinese art and culture. According to her, the dance was an offering to the goddess Ratu Segara, who protects all people.
In turn, the Bupati suggested conducting a purification ceremony called "malukat" for the dancers who went into a trance.
Eka explained that the trance occurred due to friction between positive and negative elements. Since the dance in honor of the goddess Ratu Segara is intended as an offering to her, it is sacred and serves as a cleansing from negative elements. Thus, the negative elements were disturbed by the presence of the positive ones.
"With the occurrence of trance cases, this dance was truly sacred. It's important to remember that this dance is not a performance, and in the future, we must purify the dancers before they participate in the Rejang Sandat Ratu Segara presentation to minimize negative situations," Eka added.
Roro Kidul, who appeared to the girls in trance, is a significant character in Indonesian culture. Roro Kidul is an Indonesian goddess of the sea, the queen of the Indian Ocean in Javanese and Sundanese mythology.
Ratu Roro Kidul is portrayed as a mermaid with a fish tail. It is believed that she can claim the soul of anyone she desires. According to the beliefs of villages in South Java, Queen Ratu Roro Kidul claims the lives of sailors or beachgoers, and she usually prefers handsome young men.
Mythology speaks of Ratu Roro Kidul's ability to change her appearance. Sultan of Yogyakarta Hamengkubuwono IX described his experience of a spiritual encounter with the spirit of Ratu Roro Kidul in his memoirs. The queen could appear as a young maiden during a full moon and an old lady at other times.
On the coastal areas of South Java, it is forbidden to wear green clothing on the beach, as Ratu Roro Kidul is often depicted wearing attire or a shawl of that specific color.
The dance dedicated to the goddess took place as part of the Culture and Food Festival in Tanah Lot. Rehearsals for this dance lasted about three months.
According to information from the application signed on August 18th in Tabanan, the budget for the 11-minute performance was 2.5 billion rupiahs, which is approximately 173,000 US dollars.
It included 1800 dancers' costumes with a total cost of 585,000,000 rupiahs (around $40,000, at 385,000 rupiahs per unit), accessories costing 108,000,000 rupiahs (around $7,000, at 60,000 rupiahs per unit), dance preparation at 75,000,000 rupiahs (around $5,000 for 50 people), dance instructors at 30,000,000 rupiahs (around $2,000 for 2 people), musicians at 50,000,000 rupiahs (around $3,000 for a package deal), costume cleaning at 158,000,000 rupiahs (around $11,000 for a package deal), event venue at 1,100,000,000 rupiahs (around $75,000), filming and publication at 200,000,000 rupiahs (around $14,000), transportation at 100,000,000 rupiahs (around $7,000), and event security at 50,000,000 rupiahs (around $3,000). In total, it amounted to 2,546,400,000 Indonesian rupiahs.
The Head of the Cultural Department of Tabanan Regency, I Gusti Ngurah Supandji, stated that there were no funds allocated for the dance in his department's budget. The proposal was sent to the tourism department, cooperation department, and investment department. According to his information, the regional government eventually managed to provide financial support.
Source: Bali Tribune