AND DEMONS: OFFERINGS AND
and evil, right and left, gods and demons, are banded into
two opposing factions, constantly at war, in which the weapons
are their magic powers and the stakes the lives and interests
of the Balinese themselves, compelling them to propitiate
both sides so as not to attract the wrath of either party.
Only by the proper balance between the negative and positive
forces are they able to maintain the spiritual harmony of
This is particularly important at certain times, such as
childbirth, menstruation, death in the village, or when
a crime that disturbs the magic balance of the village has
been committed; circumstances that weaken and pollute the
protective life power of the individual or of the village
and render them vulnerable to the attacks of evil.
The antithesis of the state of normalcy, of health and cleanliness
(sutji, ening) is for a person or a community to be sebel,
unclean, physically and spiritually polluted and run down,
a condition that must be cured by cleansing factors and
ceremonies to give added strength to the soul - the making
of offerings, the use of purifying water and fire, and the
recitation of secret magic words by a qualified priest,
the three elements of Balinese ritual.
To counterbalance the healthy influence of the gods who
produce cleanliness, luck, and fertility, there are evil
spirits responsible for all illness and misfortune. Among
demons that crowd the spirit world of the Balinese, some,
like the raksasas, are inoffensive giants and ghouls that
belong to literature, but the invisible causes of evil are
disagreeable butas and kalas, symbols of malice and coarseness,
that haunt desolated places, the seashore, and the deep
forests and infest the " dangerous " parts of
the village, the crossroads and the cemetery. The
butas and kalas have no other mission on earth than to annoy
and persecute humans, making people ill, disturbing and
polluting everything. They can go into people's bodies and
make them insane or turn them into idiots.
tangible gifts to the gods, the offerings
(pebanten) (see page 310) like the presents given to human
beings, consist of fruits, cakes, rice, flowers, money,
chickens, and pigs. They are given in the same spirit as
presents to the prince or to friends, a sort of modest bribe
to strengthen a request; but it is a condition that they
should be beautiful and well made to please the gods and
should be placed on well-decorated high altars.
devils. however, the Balinese treat with contempt, and the
offerings intended for evil spirits are generally a smelly
mess of half-decayed food which is disdainfully thrown to
the ground. The deities are served with the essence (sari)
of the offerings, which is fanned towards the place they
supposedly occupy, carried by the rising smoke of the incense.
Ordinary people take what is left - the material part is
later taken home and eaten. Thus both gods and the donors
enjoy the banquet. The magic people, the many Balinese possessed
by supernatural powers, are not allowed to touch these left-overs
from the feast of the gods, the food without the essence.
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