The Spiritual Beginnings of Children in Bali

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Balinese Child

We were honoured to be invited by our neighbours to share in this important landmark of their 6 month year old’s life. A wealth of colours, tradition, food and entertainment! Six months marks the child’s first Balinese birthday or Otonan, which is the most complex rite since birth with the main objective to give spiritual strength.

This is the real birthday of the child, but celebrated with the direct family and close friends only. At this stage the child is permitted to touch the ground for the very first time (yes for 6 whole months Balinese babies NEVER touch the ground!). The baby has its first haircut, a symbolic release of energies. The hair is cut from the five cardinal directions symbolically to remove impurities and is either buried or thrown in the river. All these rites of passage ceremonies are intended to remove impurities caused by the birth and the sins of previous lives. 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 spiritual strength.

You will notice in some pictures the puppet show or Wayang kulit, these are without a doubt the best known of the Indonesian wayang. Kulit means skin, and refers to the leather construction of the puppets that are carefully chiseled with very fine tools and supported with carefully shaped buffalo horn handles and control rods. The stories are usually drawn from the Hindu epics the Ramayana, the Mahabharata or from the Serat Menak, (a story about the heroism of Amir Hamza) and can last many hours.


Culture in Bali

Balinese 1st Birthday Celebrations

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