Arak Bali Cocktail


Academics and youths agree with Governor Koster’s issuance of a warning for Bali Arak Day.

The designation of January 29th in Bali as Hari Arak Bali (Bali Arak Day), initiated by Governor Wayan Koster through Governor’s Decree Number 929/03-I/HK/2022, has received positive responses from academics, the Indonesian Hindu Religious Council (PHDI), and the youth. The celebration of Hari Arak Bali has a positive purpose, which is to revive Bali’s cultural traditions inherited from ancestors. Therefore, academics and the youth urge certain individuals not to misinterpret the meaning of Hari Arak Bali in a negative way.


According to Professor Dr. Drs. I Made Agus Gelgel Wirasuta, Apt, M.Si, a Pharmacy Expert from Udayana University, on Tuesday, January 24th, 2023, Hari Arak Bali, commemorated annually on January 29th in Bali, is an appropriate idea put forth by Governor Wayan Koster.


Arak Bali is seen as a cultural heritage of Bali, showcasing traditional craftsmanship skills. Arak Bali continues to be involved in cultural activities, used for ceremonies or offered as an offering to Bhuta Kala (representing the cosmic and immeasurable force of nature depicted as a large and fearsome figure like a giant).


Arak Bali is a heritage drink produced through traditional craftsmanship, resulting in a delicious flavor derived from natural ingredients (coconut trees, sugar palm trees, and aren palm trees). To produce Arak Bali, the drink is double-distilled.


Therefore, the Pharmacy Expert from Udayana University emphasizes that Hari Arak Bali should not be misinterpreted as a celebration of excessive drinking. Instead, it should be observed to commemorate Bali’s ancestral heritage. Furthermore, Prof. Gelgel Wirasuta explains that Arak Bali can be regarded as Dewa Ye (Godly) or Bhuta Ye (Demon-like). Arak Bali becomes Dewa when consumed in the proper dosage, but when consumed excessively, it becomes Bhuta. “If we utilize Arak Bali in the right measure, it will bring positive benefits. So, who is at fault here, is it the Arak itself or those who interpret it excessively? Therefore, I invite everyone to utilize Arak Bali in the right measure and not to blame the creation of God manifested in the form of Arak,” emphasizes Prof. Gelgel.


Therefore, those who dislike the celebration of Hari Arak Bali represent a dualistic existence in life. However, it should be understood once again that the commemoration of Hari Arak Bali should be seen as an expression of gratitude from the Balinese people because Arak Bali provides many benefits, not only for religious rituals but also for the economy and health, as recognized by Bali’s ancestors. “Hence, Governor Wayan Koster’s intention to organize Hari Arak Bali is to revive Bali’s cultural traditions because this cultural heritage possesses high economic value and benefits,” he asserts.


Furthermore, PHDI Bali, represented by Nyoman Kenak, appreciates Governor Wayan Koster for properly regulating the utilization of the traditional drink, Arak Bali, through Governor’s Regulation Number 1 of 2020 concerning the Governance of Balinese Fermented and/or Distilled Drinks. To commemorate the enactment of this regulation, Hari Arak Bali is observed on January 29th.


As stated by the Secretary of PHDI Bali, Putu Wirata Dwikora, Governor’s Regulation Number 1 of 2020 was issued to protect, preserve, develop, and utilize the fermented and/or distilled drinks specific to Bali, including Tuak Bali, Brem Bali, and Arak Bali, primarily for religious ceremonies. It aims to support sustainable economic empowerment based on cultural values in line with the vision of Nangun Sat Kerthi Loka Bali.


As a Hindu religious institution, Arak Bali is used as a ritual tool. In fact, there are Balinese people who consume Arak Bali within certain limits that do not harm their health and have been traditionally allowed. According to the Panca Wanara Konyer, one of the teachings mentions the effects of consuming alcohol. Drinking one glass is refreshing for the body (Eka Padmasari), while drinking two glasses or more will stimulate enthusiasm (Dwi Angemertani).


Meanwhile, I Kadek Satria, an academic from UNHI Denpasar, considers the commemoration of Hari Arak Bali on January 29th in Bali as a positive step to strengthen the local economy derived from our natural resources. From a Hindu perspective, Hari Arak Bali should be seen as an opportunity for education because in Hindu teachings, Arak Bali is used as a ritual tool, and it is indeed taught that excessive drinking is forbidden.


However, if Arak Bali is consumed in moderation, it can be beneficial and promote good health. Thus, the purpose of Hari Arak Bali is to boost the economy of the local community in a positive way.


Furthermore, Yowana MDA of Karangasem Regency, represented by I Made Arda Oka, strongly supports Governor Wayan Koster’s commendable initiative to establish Hari Arak Bali through the issuance of the Governor’s Decree. He states that Governor Koster organizes Hari Arak Bali according to Governor’s Decree Number 929/03-I/HK/2022, which serves several purposes. Firstly, to commemorate the enactment of Governor’s Regulation Number 1 of 2020 concerning the governance of Balinese fermented and/or distilled drinks, elevating the existence, value, and significance of Arak Bali.


Secondly, to encourage all Balinese people, local governments in Bali, and business actors to consider January 29th as a day of collective awareness regarding the existence, value, and significance of Arak Bali. Thirdly, to protect and preserve Arak Bali in accordance with cultural values, as well as to empower, market, and utilize Arak Bali for sustainable local economics. Fourthly, to urge the community, local governments, and business actors to refrain from using Arak Bali in activities contrary to its essential values and prevailing regulations.


In conclusion, the purpose of Governor Wayan Koster’s decision to celebrate Hari Arak Bali is to boldly and intelligently promote Bali’s cultural heritage, which possesses economic potential. As the objective is positive, Hari Arak Bali should not be misinterpreted in an illogical manner. I Made Arda Oka Yowana, a representative of the youth from Adat Village, Sidemen District, Karangasem, emphasizes that Arak Bali is a local product derived from the blessings of the Creator in the form of coconut trees, sugar palm trees, and aren palm trees. It is a cultural heritage of Bali that needs to be preserved to support the livelihoods of those engaged in Arak Bali production, such as farmers.