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Traditional Games in Today’s World

Foreword from Listen to the World

On July 4th, our Balinese brothers and sisters celebrated Saraswati Day, the Day of Knowledge.

Knowledge is a sacred and beautiful phenomenon to the Balinese. It is represented by Saraswati, who is a charming Goddess with four arms that hold (and play) a zither, scriptures and rosary beads. The word Saraswati means “the one that flows”; a never-ending, flowing river that distributes knowledge across the lands. This “flowing” knowledge is an integral aspect of Balinese tradition that is found in numerous guises: from nature, holy books and manuscripts, to folklore, traditional arts and games. The holistic nature of knowledge makes it more than just the mere acquisition of information (cleverness), but also to that of wisdom (intelligence). It is due to these foundations that the Balinese pay earnest respect towards their ancestral knowledge.

In this day and age, where modernization and technological advancement could potentially threaten local knowledge and wisdom, I Wayan Sapta Wigunadika – with full awareness of such issues – takes a step in preserving and cultivating ancestral legacies by writing articles targeting the young generation in Bali, the Indonesian government, and eventually the citizens of world.

Happy reading!


Traditional Games in Today’s World

By I Wayan Sapta Wigunadika

Traditional games were not created simply for the sake of fun. In fact, it is a part of behavioural education that contains lessons on discipline, confidence, coexisting, social sensitivity and, most importantly, morality. The last one was emphasized because it underpins the effort to build a child’s character, to help him/her grow into a good social being.

In the past, traditional games were very popular in Bali. They were usually played under the full moon. One of the most popular games is called ‘Meong-meong’ (an onomatope of a cat’s sound). Played in groups, it depicts a cat’s (effort in catching a mouse. This game is accompanied with a song that says:

“Meong meong alih ja bikule, bikul gede-gede buin mokoh-mokoh, kereng pesan ngerusuhin, juk meng…juk kul”

English Translation:

‘O cats, find some mice. Big mice, who always create problems. Go cat, catch the mice.’

The effort to revive traditional games in modern times is crucial because children have turned away from them. In fact, traditional games may pose more benefits compared to modern games, such as helping children with social interaction. While playing the game, children learn how to interact with their friends, which in turns will be good for their development. Moreover, children also learn how to cooperate. Traditional games can also help children to be more creative. These games typically don’t have fixed rules, so all participants first must determine and agree with how it should be played. To make the games attractive and fun, they all must be creative.

With those benefits, we should not think further why traditional games must be revived. They teach children with necessary behaviors they need to grow up.

English Translation by Riri Rafiani.

Featured image by Maria Junia


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