The cultural visit to one of Indonesia’s World Heritage Sites, Subak in Jatiluwih, Tabanan, Bali on October 10, marked the commencement of the World Culture Forum (WCF) 2016 held in Bali, Indonesia. In conformity with its theme, ‘Culture for an Inclusive Sustainable Planet’, the visit aims to help all of the participants comprehend the cultural development phase in Bali.
The visit began with the trip to Batukaru temple to witness the holy water invocation ritual to the Gods and then was proceeded with the interactive dialogue session with the Director of Balinese Paddy Field Conservation Foundation, Phyllis Kaplan, and the lecturer of International Relations department of Udhayana University, Wiwik Dharmiasih.
Phyllis stressed the importance of the irrigation system for the survival of mankind. “Balinese Paddy Field Conservation Foundation developed the Economic Development with The Farmers program to encourage the farmers to produce the organic products. The program aims to develop and conserve the traditional irrigation system, or subak, so that farmers can continue to benefit from the system that has been established by the ancestors,” he explained.
This was echoed by Wiwik, who said that Subak is an important asset in Bali, which must not only be maintained, but also its continuity be preserved. “In this modern time, there are many farmers who advise their grandchildren not to become a farmer, but to become a doctor or others, instead. Thoughts like these will ultimately make Subak become neglected. The infrastructure development for paddy fields will help stimulate society to start farming and producing their own products, without having to import goods from other countries,” said Wiwik.
Subak is how Balinese people call a water irrigation system, which was formed as a management system to ensure that water can irrigate rice fields in a village. Like other traditional organizations in Bali, Subak is also based on the philosophy of Tri Hita Karana, which teaches that happiness can be achieved if human beings are able to maintain harmonious relations between the three elements, namely Parhyangan (Deity), Pawongan (Human), and Palemahan (Nature).
The participants also gain knowledge from the speakers concerning the obstacles to the survival of Subak system. One of the main reasons is the demands of the rapid development in various fields, mainly tourism, which is not always in line with the values of local wisdom embraced by local community. Therefore, Subak became one of the issues to be discussed at the World Culture Forum 2016, as an example of the complexity of the problems faced in preserving local knowledge in line with the demands of development in Bali as a world tourism base. Therefore, the effort to inform Subak to the world community is echoed into valuable knowledge because it is expected to bridge the interdependence between man, nature and divinity.