By I Made Suastika In MUDRA Special Edition 2007
Tarian Bumi (or “The Dance of the World”) by Oka Rusmini is published by Indonesia Tera, Magelang, in 2002. As a novel, Tarian Bumi consists of 140 pages and divided into 20 chapters but has no chapter’s number. In its introduction, the publisher tells about the general vision and mission of the novel, including the condition and position of woman writer (Oka Rusmini) in Indonesian literature.
Tarian Bumi is worth to be discussed because 1) Tarian Bumi is written by a woman writer in which, so far, dominated by man. 2) Tarian Bumi evokes local color, which is very rare and less attracted in literature writing. 3) The theme is about Balinese culture, one of the unique cultures in Indonesia. At the end, there is a brief biography of the writer and a note on local words.
Luh Sekar is a poor sudra, the lowest caste in Bali. Her mother is Luh Dalem. Some people say, she has been robbed and raped by more than three men, then she gets pregnant even blind. Many efforts have been done to miscarriage but fails to do that. She then bears two babies, they are Luh Kerta and Luh Kerti, Luh Sekar’s younger sisters. To earn their living, Luh Sekar sells things in Badung market.
Luh Dalem, especially her daughter Luh Sekar, is a hardworking woman. They want to improve their life. That is why Luh Sekar chooses to marry a man from a brahmana caste, the highest caste. In order to attract the man, she learns dancing. She also prepares herself with a jimat (magical power) given by her mother. Beside that, she looks for a taksu (inner, spiritual power from God) by praying in a temple at night accompanied by Luh Kenten.
Luh Sekar is able to change her life for she succeeds to marry Ida Bagus Ngurah, a brahmana. Due to Balinese traditional culture, she is given a title called jero. Her new name is Jero Kenanga. It is true that, after the marriage, being a new brahmana, she becomes a woman with a changed socio-economic condition. In fact, she is not happy as her husband is a playboy and a gambler. She is so stressed because of the tight rule as a brahmana. So, many rules have to follow. In the family, she is so dilemmatic because she is now a brahmana but treated a sudra.
From her marriage, she has a brahmana daughter, named Ida Ayu Telaga Pidada alias Tugeg. Like her mother, Ida Ayu Telaga Pidada is good at dancing. Under the guidance of Luh Kambren, her dance teacher, she can dance various traditional dances.
However, there are so many different characters between Ida Ayu Telaga Pidada and her mother. Her mother is very ambitious in terms of socio-economic status whereas Ida Ayu Telaga Pidada seems very humble. As a brahmana, Ida Ayu Telaga Pidada cherishes all people. She hates any rule run in the brahmana family. Different from her mother, she does not like to marry a man from the same caste (brahmana). That is why, she chooses to marry a sudra painter named Wayan Sasmita. It is told that, Wayan Sasmita is an unexpected child from illegal marriage between Ida Bagus Ketu and Luh Gumbreg whom are Ida Ayu Telaga Pidada‘s father and mother-in-law.
The marriage between Ida Ayu Telaga Pidada and Wayan Sasmita is not lasted long for Wayan Sasmita dies of heart-attack. But, they have a daughter named Luh Sari. After her husband death, Ida Ayu Telaga Pidada suffers so much. Wayan Sasmita’s mother-in-law (Luh Gumbreg) blames Ida Ayu Telaga Pidada as the cause of her son‘s death. She thinks that it is all because Ida Ayu Telaga Pidada does not hold a special religious ceremony concerning her giving up relationship from her being brahmana. To do that, such a ceremony is held one day.
On the other hand, Sadri, Wayan Sasmita‘s sister, is jealous with Ida Ayu Telaga Pidada. Once, Ida Ayu Telaga Pidada is also raped by Putu Sarma, her brother-in-law.