The story goes that Rangda, the mother of Erlangga, the King of Bali in the tenth century, was condemned by Erlangga’s father because she practiced black magic. After she became a widow, she summoned all the evil spirits in the jungle, the leaks and the demons, to come after Erlangga. A fight occurred, but she and her black magic troops were too strong that Erlangga had to ask for the help of Barong. Barong came with Erlangga’s soldiers, and fight ensued. Rangda casted a spell that made Erlangga soldiers all wanted to kill themselves, pointing their poisoned keris into their own stomachs and chests. Barong casted a spell that turned their body resistant to the sharp keris. At the end, Barong won, and Rangda ran away.
Somebody can die or get seriously injured in a Barong dance. It is said that if Rangda’s spell is too strong, a weak soldier may not be able to resist it, even with the help of Barong. He may end up hurting himself with his own keris.
The masks of Barong and Rangda are considered sacred items, and before they are brought out, a priest must be present to offer blessings by sprinkling them with holy water taken from Mount Agung, and offerrings must be presented.
There are several versions of the Barong Dance, as Bali has an abundance of myths and legends. There is Barong Ket, Barong Asu (Dog Barong), Barong Macan (Tiger Barong), Barong Bangkal (Pig Barong), Barong Gajah (Elephant Barong) and others.
One of the well known stories on which the Barong Dance is based, is the Kunti Seraya. The plot is very intriguing, showing the effect of the Gods intervention upon the people through supernatural powers.
It is told that Dewi Kunti, from the royal family of Hastinapura, was very ill. As a devotee of the Goddess Durga, she seeks help, however, the Goddess tells her that the price of health is her own son, Sahadewa. It seems that the Goddess fancied Sahadewa’s young and luscious flesh for her dinner.
Dewi Kunta recovers from her illness and it is time to pay the price. She regrets her decision to pay the price but a promise is a promise. One of the Goddess’s followers put her into a trance and enters her body. She becomes a terrifying creature and unconsciously beats Sahadewa mercilessly. She then takes him to an unpenetratable jungle and ties him to a tree. Later Sahadewa is given immortality by God and she overcomes the wrath of the Goddess and she is able to release her son.