So what is that? Well, itís kind of the Balinese way of determining an idol, as in American Idol, but it goes far beyond talent, as every aspect of life in this infrequently run government competition is considered. This competition is not to find or recognize specific individuals, but rather to single out exceptional communities.

Lomba Desa Terpadu are not events open to tourists. When they occur, they are among the most intense and challenging events to face any Banjar or village. As explained to me, ďitís like Galungan times 10...but without the religion.Ē This competition has nothing to do with religion, rather, it has everything to do with village pride. Today, during our scrutiny, we were hosts to no less than 40 government dignitaries.

Today, our village introduced our womenís gamelan, for the first time, as part of this Lomba Desa. I proudly present the womenís gamelan group of Banjar Bunutan, Desa Kedewatan, Kecamatan Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali in their first major public performance. While I might seem as proud as a father whose 5 year old daughter just performed her first violin concerto, these ladies did Bunutan, Kedewatan, Ubud, Gianyar and all of Bali and the art of gamelan VERY fine! My wife Eri is a member of our womenís gamelan, so this great achievement is especially sweet for me.

All the credit for this seemingly impossible dream goes to my dearest brother on Bali, I Wayan Dedik Rachman, who, as an acknowledged Balinese expert in the art of gamelan, a performer of gamelan in many parts of the world, a teacher, and always in his life, a student, persevered with patience and molded this group of married ladies in our village into a coherent, and masterful group of gamelan performers.

The Lomba Desa Terpadu does not end with the sweet sound of the gamelan, regardless if played by women. Rather, this is like a total physical examination of the village. As my photos will show, it even includes some physical examinations (blood pressure readings) of its citizens randomly chosen. It also includes random and unannounced compound visits to check for cleanliness.

All of the regencies in Bali are currently competing within their regency to represent their regency in provincial Bali finals. The finalists of each regency will represent their regency in an overall Bali contest. From what I have been told, the last Lomba Desa Terpadu in Bali was some fifteen years ago.

Banjar Bunutan, as part of Desa Kedwatan performed today, in all aspects, brilliantly. In all areas, our marks were highly scored. Living in this village for going on eight years, I have seen it grow from an obscure agrarian based community to a vibrant and bursting force. Personally, I could not be happier than to call this once humble, and once unknown village, home and I couldnít be prouder of its people.

PS, as usual with my web host, you may need to right click in order to bring these images to full screen. ... 5April.jpg