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Childhood ceremonies from baby to adult

 

 

 
Finally the baby is born. First the father washes the amniotic and the placenta. These are wrapped in white cloth and put in a clay pot, together with some flowers and the traditional Chinese coins. After a small ceremony the pot with its contents is buried in the ground on the right (boy) or the left (girl) side of the entrance of the house, then covered with a stone from the river and topped with a young plant or tree. The items buried together with the placenta will be the four companions of the young child and protect him for the rest of his life.
 
Note: the first three days after the birth the parents are not allowed to enter the kitchen.
 

After twelve days it is time for the ceremony of the umbilical cord. When the umbilical cord from the baby’s body falls off, it is kept in a small silver box, beautifully decorated with the traditional Balinese symbols such as the Barong, until the ceremony can be held.

 

This ceremony puts the child under the protection of the god of infants, one of the sons of Shiva. He will protect him or her until the first teeth appears. On the wall, close to the baby’s bed, a special shrine is attached, with daily fresh offerings to the protecting spirit.

Pregnancy in Bali triggers the start of a long series of cycle of life ceremonies (Upacara Manusa Yadna) to ensure a healthy life surrounded by the good spirits and the helpful presence of the gods for the child and the parents. These kinds of ceremonies are usually held in the Bale Dangin of the family compound. 
 
When the mother is three months pregnant, the parents-to-be receive a cleansing ceremony, to make a clean surrounding inside and outside the baby’s warm and cozy hideaway. Also with 7 month a ceremony is performed, to ask for an easy delivery. The father will not cut his hair throughout the pregnancy until the little one is born and the umbilical cord has fallen off.
 
The 42-days ceremony is a somewhat bigger ritual, to ensure the continuing of the proper development of the child. A young chicken and duck will be brought on the scene, to show the baby how the hands, feet and the mouth can be used to gather food. This also marks the moment the child can start eating rice.
Also the mother gets a purification ritual and from that time she is free to leave the house without carrying with her the risk of bringing evil spirits to everybody she visits.
 
When 3 Balinese months have passed, nelubulanin or the three month ceremony is celebrated with much offerings, including suckling pig (babi guling). From this day the child is allowed to touch the ground with the feet. The highlight of the ceremony is when the child is placed under a cock basket with a clay pot or bowl of water with some small objects in it such as coins, jewelry, a goldfish or things representing livestock. Whatever the baby grabs shall be in his live in abundacy. The child is given silver bracelets on wrists and ancles and the small silver box containing the remains of the umbilical cord will be placed on a silver chainlet around the neck.
 
With 210 days of age (6 Balinese month) the next important ceremony is performed, called Otonan or six month ceremony. This is the real birthday of the child, but celebrated with the direct family and close friends only if there is not enough money for a big celebration. In that case the big party can be held anytime later.
The hair is shaven as a sign of purity. The purpose of the whole ritual is the reinforcement of the relation between the young one and his four companions, given him after birth. It is also believed to increase the harmony between the body and the soul and convey spritual strength.
  
 
The Potong Gigi (tooth filing) marks the transition from adolescent into adult. Usually it is done somewhere in puberty during a big ceremony The 6 middle upper teeth are filed with the tools on the picture, in order to emphasize the difference between animals and humans by being in control of bad human characteristics like anger, aggression and jealousy. A piece of sugar cane helps to keep the mouth wide open. If the filing is done by an experienced priest, the teeth are not permanently damaged. The white teethdust is spit into a young yellow coconut. Afterwards, with a small ceremony, the coconut is put into the river along with some traditional flowers.
 
However there are villages which maintain additional ceremonies to mark this important phase, such as Tenganan Pergringsingan and Tenganan Dauh Tukad. These Bali Aga villages (villages living according ancient traditions)celebrate the transition of the young men with the famous mekare-kare ceremony, a man-to-man fight with sharp Pandan leaves as a weapon.