The first time we got passed by the people from a banjar on their motorcycles, waving their flags, I had the impression it was a sort of local motorcycle gang. But then why would a motorcycle gang escort a truck carrying an stupendously big kite? My friend Aleksandra who’s been living in Bali for ten months tells me they are more of a local community center. Almost every street has their own banjar where people come to meet and talk and work on things together. One of the things they do is make kites and these guys are on their way to a beach near Sanur where local banjars will come to compete in a kite festival.
The enormous kites are traditionally made and their sizes are quite staggering. They are so big that the banjar members use the kites as shade structures when its not their turn to fly yet. Each banjar makes their own kite and they compete on size, the originality, the movements and the ‘song’ it makes when it flies. The kites are numbered, as are the banjar so that it is easy to spot who the kites belong too. The banjar people wear traditional clothing while they fly and gamelan music is being played. The Balinese kites are used in ceremony to carry a message to the gods, asking for good harvests.
The banjars have pride, it is quite apparent and reminiscent of Western b-boy crews during dance competitions. There’s a lot of bravado, all members wear shirts showing of their banjar and the kites are carried around proudly when it is their turn to take it out onto the field.
The day after visiting the festival we learn of a tragic incident at the Bali Kite Festival. One of the kites, an 8×5 meter structure, has crashed down onto the head of an eight year old boy who died due to the injury in the hospital.