The problem of goodness versus evil is never really finish in this world. Many stories, legends, even the Hollywood movies set this theme as their focus in their stories.
In Bali there are also many stories about good and bad. Barong story which is presented in the Barong Dance performed daily in Batu Bulan village is no different. It tells the story is about fight between good and bad, only this time the good does not win...
Barong is a an animal which looks like a lion. Since no one has seen it in reality, it is safe to assume that Barong is a mythical character just like the leprechaun.
Where do you see the original Barong? If you tour around with your tour guide or driver, you might have a chance to see a religious procession. You will probably the local Balinese who dances Barong dance on the prossesion.
The function of Barong is believed to expel the evil spirit away, or neutralize negative energy (if this make more sense to you) so it will not interfere the temple festival. Therefore the Barong dance is performed in the temple yard prior to the temple festival and in a prossesion and it is not intended as public performance because it is categorized as sacred dance.
But you can watch this sacred dance in an open stage which hold hundred of spectators in Batubulan village. I know this does not sound right; presenting our sacred dance for public. Bali Hindu authority has no problem with it. And I guess the question is that there has been a modification in the dance. The story is not the same with those performed in the temple.
Now, let me introduce the evil character;Rangda. Rangda is the counterpart, it represent evil spirit or negative energy. Rangda is actually a name of a beautiful widow who practiced black magic. But she can turn into a monster which looks very horrible; protruded eyes, long fangs and teeth, long "not fashionable" hair, uncut finger nails and bare breast. You don't want to mess up with her on the street in the middle of the night in Kuta. I remember as a kid watching the Rangda came out and I ran away with the speed of a bullet.
There are other important characters; the villagers, who are supposedly the good people who attack Rangda. But these people, while trying to hurt her, loose their consciousness and go into trance state because Rangda casts spell on them. Instead of stabbing Rangda with their keris (dagger) they do it on their own chests.
The interesting thing can happen is during watching the dance in the temple. It is not only the dancers that can get in trance, the spectators can too. Some body will suddenly falls down and begin shrieking words that we barely understand. We know he gets "kerauhan" or trance state. So, be careful when watching Barong dance on a Balinese Hindu festival in the temple.
When somebody is in trance, people come to fetch him and bring him into the stage. The in trance person will begin dancing and stabbing himself. The other villagers will give him a life little chicken. What for? you ask. Well, to eat.
You will not see "life chicken eating performance" in Batu Bulan.
Batubulan version is the romanticized version of Barong with happy ending and funny characters who try hard to make you laugh with their body language. (Too bad they have no subtitles) The story is started by a chaos in a kingdom where the queen, being possed by the spell from Rangda, become mad and expel her only son, the Prince Sahadewa.
The prince was taken into the forest and there Rangda tried to kill him. Since Sahadewa was given spiritual power by Lord Siva, although Rangda used up all her magic 'stock', he could not be killed. Rangda surrendered. So, she gave up her power and let herself be killed by Sahadewa.
Before died, Rangda asked Sahadewa to visit her ashram or school of black magic to inform about her passed away to her students.
Arriving at the school, Sahadewa was welcomed by Kalika, the smartest and most beautiful Rangda's pupil. Soon they fell in love with each other.
When later Kalika knew the caused of Rangda's death, her eyes turned red as she shouted to Sahadewa. "Go away with your stinking love!"
And the eternal fight was begun.
At the end, Kalika transformed herself into another Rangda; the ugly demon. Sahadewa had to chase her because she was sneaky as she transformed her self into a boar, a garuda bird, and a Rangda.
The villagers who came to help Sahadewa to kill this brand new Rangda, stab their own chests because they were under Rangda's spell. Don't worry, nobody got hurt here since Sahadewa turned himself into Barong which cast spell to make the villagers bodies could not be wounded by any weapon.
A priest also came from no where and sprinkled holy water to release the villagers from Rangda's spell. And the story is finished here. End of the show. Please clap your hands.
Who wins the fight? No body wins. Because there is always good and bad in the world; black and white, day and night, yin and yang, you name it.