Bali has a unique tradition called Omed-omedan. Maybe, a traveler has heard of the unique tradition of Omed-omedan from Bali. In this event, a traveler can witness hundreds of Balinese young people kissing each other.
Omed-omedan is not an event to indulge in lust. This is a traditional event, where we can learn about the sense of togetherness and close kinship.
Omed-omedan in Indonesian means attraction. The omed-omedan event is usually held one day after the Nyepi Day celebrations.
One of the villages that still holds this event is Sesetan Village, Denpasar, Bali. The single Sesetan boys are probably the happiest on that day, for they get to kiss the single ladies of their village without any consequences.
The Omed-omedan tradition aims to strengthen a sense of kinship among residents, especially residents of Banjar Kaja, Sesetan Village.
Known as the kissing ritual, Omed-omedan is when the bachelors and bachelorettes aged 17-30 of Sesetan gather on the area’s main street.
Divided into two groups (men and women), they will take the position and face each other; at a given signal, both sides will approach the center of the street, and male participants will pull and kiss (sometimes forcefully) the female participants while the rest of the villagers in the audience pour buckets of water over them.
The event begins with praying together at the temple.
Then proceed with the performance of Barong Bangkung Males and Females. When finished, then the group of participants entered the temple grounds.
There are two groups involved in the omed-omedan, namely the male and female groups. The positions of men and women were made facing each other. Before the program started, gamelan music was played. A village elder gave the signal for the two groups to draw closer to each other.
As the two groups approached, the front participants from each group would hug each other, then kiss, then splash with water, and the other participants would pull each other.
Meanwhile, the audience who watched it could only laugh out loud watching the excitement of this event.
That said, the Omed-omedan tradition originated from residents of the Puri Oka Kingdom, located in South Denpasar. The residents used to take the initiative to make a game of attraction. Over time, this game became more interesting, so that it turned into a hug.
But because the atmosphere became chaotic, Puri Oka King, who was seriously ill, got angry, because he was disturbed by the noise.
However, as soon as the King came out and saw this omed-omedan game, he actually recovered from his illness.
Since then, the King ordered residents to hold the omed-omedan every year after Nyepi Day.
The ritual was once dismissed in the 80s, and what happened after didn’t please the villagers; some kind of plague struck the area, causing pigs to fight each other with the Sesetan residents struggling to separate them. Due to this strange occurrence, the festival was resumed, for it is believed that this annual ritual prevents disaster from descending upon the village.
For travelers who want to laugh and have fun with the residents of Sesetan, it feels compulsory to watch Omed-omedan which is so typical in Bali. By this time, hundreds of people from the neighboring areas and visitors in the know will have already flocked to the road.
The Omed-omedan normally takes place at around 2 pm. Visitors wishing to observe the festivity are advised to arrive early to secure good positions to snap photos.
You might want to protect your camera with waterproof housing as there will be water sprays everywhere right in the center of the crowd.
There will also be a street bazaar with vendors selling traditional food, clothes, and more. Live music and comedy shows delivered in Balinese and/or Bahasa Indonesian will be performed on a stage before the ritual begins.