Towards the end of the Balinese year, during the last months of the rainy season, epidemics of malaria and tropical fevers make their appearance because evil spirits and leyaks are in the ascendancy; then even the earth is said to be sick. It is believed that the fanged demon living on the little island of Nusa Penida, Djero' Gede' Metjaling, comes to Bali then in the form of a fiery ball that, upon coming ashore, explodes into a thousand sparks that spread in all directions. As their glow dies, they release evil forces that go to spread illness and misfortune. This is a propitious time for leyaks to prey on human beings; because of the predominance of evil forces, the village is then magically weakened. The dogs gather at the crossroads and howl all night and the owls hoot, predicting deaths in the village. Quantities of offerings are made to placate the devils, and the benign spirits are implored to come down to earth, through the body of a medium, to advise and protect the distressed community.
A performance of sanghyang dedari is one of the most effective exorcisms; two little girls, trained to go into a trance, are chosen from all the girls of the village for their psychic aptitudes by the temple priest, the pemangku, to receive in their bodies the spirits of the heavenly nymphs, the beautiful dedari Supraba and Blue Lotus (Tundjung Biru"). Choruses of men and women are formed and the training begins. Every night, for weeks, they all go to the temple, where the women sing traditional songs while the men chant strange rhythms and harmonies made up of meaningless syllables, producing a syncopated accompaniment for the dance that the little girls, the sanghyangs, will perform. By degrees the little girls become more and more subject to the ecstasy produced by the intoxicating songs, by the incense, and by the hypnotic power of the pernangku. The training goes on until the girls are able to fall into a deep trance, and a formal performance can be given. It is extraordinary that although the little girls have never received dancing lessons once in a trance they are able to dance in any style, all of which would require ordinary dancers months and years of training to learn. But the Balinese ask how it could be otherwise, since it is the goddesses who dance in the bodies of the little girls.
girls are ready, they are taken to the death temple where a sanggar agung,
a high altar, has been erected, filled with offerings for the sun. The
Pemangku sits facing the altar in fro of a brazier where incense of three
sorts is burned. The little girls wear ear-plugs of gold, heavy silver
anklets, bracelets, an rings. Their hair is loose and they are dressed
in white skirts They kneel in front of the altar on each side of the priest.
The women singers sit in-a circle around them, while the men main in a
group in the back. Their jewellery is removed and put in a bowl of water;
small incense braziers are placed in front of each girl. After a short
prayer by the priest the women sing:
is filled with, golden flowers that grow side by side, with the pandanus,
the scorpion orchids, the tigakantju, pineapples soli and sempol, their
tender leaves gracefully drooping; drooping they spread their perfume
through the garden.
The head-dress, the head-dress circled with jasmines, the garuda mungkur ornament on its back, enhanced with sempol and gambir flowers, crowned with fragrant sandat and yellow pistils of merak.
Tightly bound in their sashes they dance in the middle of the court, they dance slowly and glide from side to side, sway and swing in ecstasy.
The pemangku, until then motionless and concentrating, now takes a coconut with the holy water about to be sanctified, water in which have been placed various sorts of flowers and three small branches of dadap bound in red, black, and white thread. Then be asks the sanghyangs to turn the water into an amulet.
The sanghyangs begin to dance with closed eyes, accompanied by alternating choruses of the men who sing in furious syncopation: " Kechak-kechak-kechak - chakchakchak!_ and by the women who sing:
The flower menuk that makes one happy, the white flower, it is - it is - it is white and in rows, like, the stars above, like the constellations, like the constellation kartika, that scintillates, they scintillate, scintillate and fade away, fade away and disappear, disappear, disappear because of the moonlight.
Lengkik, lengkik, lengkik, says the plaintive song of the lonely dasih bird that was left behind. Oh, how he cries He cries, cries like the cry of a child who must be amused, amused by the dancing of the dedaris. Lengkik, lengkik, swing and sway in ecstasy. . .
may suddenly decide to go to another temple or tour the village, chasing
the leyaks, followed by the singing men and women. The sanghyangs must
not touch the impure ground outside the temple and are carried everywhere
When the fire is extinguished, the girls climb onto the shoulders of two men who walk around the courtyard, the girls' prehensile feet clutching the men's shoulders, balancing themselves and dancing gracefully from the waist up, bending back at incredible angles. In this manner they give the illusion of gliding through the air. The temperamental girls may suddenly decide that the dance is over. Then they must be taken out o the trance with more songs; and the sanghyangs become ordinary girls again, they distribute the flowers from their headdresses as amulets and sprinkle the crowd with holy water:
goddess stand up, goddess, stand up. The singers have come and are singing
the sanghyang. Come, goddess, goddess, we ask of the nymphs to come to
us for a while and go around, go around. Oh, beautiful goddess! take the
holy water from the altar, the holy, the clear, the immaculate water with
frangipani, white maduri) white hibiscus and blue teleng. The water in
the gold coconut, the liberating, water, the water made in heaven. Sprinkle
it over yourself and go and spray the singers. Then go home, go home to
the Indraloka. Go and bathe in the garden and adorn yourself with white
orchids, then go home, goddess, go home, back to heaven, and disappear
into space, go into space. The wind blows, fly with the wind goddess;
the body remains to take again its human form. . . .
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