The Banjar is an essential element of Balinese society and plays a vital role in the social, economic, and cultural life of the people. It refers to a community-based organization that represents a group of families living within the same geographical area. Within the banjar community, there is a building or meeting hall called bale banjar – a place or center for various activities, where the community members meet to discuss environmental issues, rules or prohibitions, religious ceremonies and so on.
There are two types of banjar; banjar adat and banjar dinas. Both have their territorial boundaries and authority to regulate or manage the interests of the community in regards of customary affairs and official affairs. Both are legally recognized in the government system of the Republic Indonesia.
Banjar Adat serves as a social, cultural, and religious unit, headed by a klian adat. This klian is usually chosen from families who have a long history of Balinese custom and is chosen based on their ability to lead and maintain traditions. The duties of klian adat include organizing and leading traditional ceremonies, maintaining security and order in the community, and facilitating community social activities. The leadership of klian adat clan is recognized and respected by the Balinese people as the inheritor of local wisdom and maintains the continuity of traditions that have existed for hundreds of years.
Banjar Dinas, on the other hand, is a government-level community organization established by the local government to handle administrative functions in addition to cultural and social activities. It is headed by a klian dinas or head of the environment (kepala lingkungan), whose function is to take care of administrative activities, such issuing ID cards, government activities and regulation, permit arrangements associated with the government bureaucracy, and so on.
The role of a banjar is so crucial in Balinese society as it is a form of social cohesion where people in the community work together, trust each other, share values, and support each other in times of need or crisis. It is also responsible for resolving disputes and enforcing rules and regulations within the community to maintain peace and harmony, as well as preserving the culture.