Police in Badung regency are borrowing a figure from Balinese folklore in a creative attempt to capture the public’s attention for matters related to COVID-19, as seen in photos that are circulating on social media this week.


According to reports, a police officer was sighted at the Sempidi Traditional Market in Badung yesterday, wearing a celuluk costume and gloves with a coronavirus print to raise awareness about preventive measures against COVID-19. 

In Balinese folklore, a Leak (sometimes also called Leyak) is a mythological figure, believed to exist in the form of a flying head with an unusually long tongue and large fangs, and the entrails of the human heart, lung, and liver still attached. Leak is said to mean “evil sorcerer,” while celuluk is the name attributed to one of them, an underling to the Queen of all Leak, Rangda.  

With the mythological figure so commonly known (and often feared) among the people of Bali, the creative use only seems apt as authorities hope to better educate the public on important COVID-19 information this week. As seen in several Instagram posts, this celuluk has gone around distributing masks and giving out information with a loudspeaker in hand.

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According to Roby Septiadi, who heads Badung Police, law enforcement officers are tasked with supporting the COVID-19 task force in terms of prevention and raising awareness about government advisories to the public. 

“We hope that raising awareness through this celuluk figure will make it easier for the mass public to [retain the information],” Roby said.

He added that the celuluk has been warning people not to travel back to their hometowns, calling out those who are not wearing face masks, and informing them of important health protocols. In addition, the Badung Police plan on taking this approach to other traditional markets across the regency. 

“The celuluk will introduce itself and say that [the coronavirus] is looking for people who are traveling to their hometowns, not wearing masks, not washing their hands, and violating government advisories,” Roby continued.

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