Omed-Omedan: The Kissing Ritual

Bali's Biggest Celebrations | Written By, Life on the Island |

The day after Nyepi, the residents of Sesetan will flood the main road of their village in Denpasar to celebrate the caka new year with a unique ritual called Omed-omedan , also known as the kissing ritual!

Omed-omedan Bali sesetan (1 of 1)-2

The single Sesetan boys are probably the happiest on this day, for they get to kiss the single ladies of their village without any consequences. 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 position and face each other; at a given signal, both sides will approach to the centre 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.

Meaning “to pull” in Balinese, Omed-omedan has been passed down from generation to generation in the hamlet as an activity intended to strengthen the social cohesion among the young generation of Sesetan. 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 occurrance, the festival was resumed, for it is believed that this annual ritual prevents disaster from descending upon the village.

The ritual will begin with everyone involved praying in the village’s Banjar temple. Once the praying is done, there will be a brief Barong performance that takes place on the road. By this time, hundreds of people from the neighbouring areas and visitors in the know will have already flocked to the road.

Omed-omedan Bali sesetan (1 of 1)-2
Omed-omedan Bali sesetan (1 of 1)-2

The Omed-omedan normally takes place at around 2pm. 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 a waterproof housing as there will be water sprays everywhere right in the centre 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.

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