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Piranti Mepandes: Tools of the Tooth Filing

One of the most significant rites of passage for any Balinese Hindu is the tooth filing ceremony, known as metatah, mesangih and for higher castes, mepandes. The ceremony involves the filing down of the top two canines and four incisors, the ‘fang-like’ teeth which are symbolic of the animalistic tendencies, as people enter the adult

Edward Speirs
Gringsing Nyandang Kebo

The Sacred Gringsing Wayang Kebo

Kurniawati was sitting next to me under a roof covered in jaka fibers, while she was waiting to pick up the daha (unmarried women) for the coming-of-age ritual, part of Usaba Kasa. It was 10 in the morning, “The girls have been getting ready since the morning, while the boys are drinking. We are waiting

Desa Adat Renon: An Ogoh-Less Village

On the eve of Nyepi, Bali’s Day of Silence, the island is in a boisterous and lively state as people celebrate the Ngrupuk Parade. This ritual of sorts sees the parading of the ogoh-ogoh, gigantic and vibrant effigies depicting demons, beasts and ghastly characters (bhuta kala) of Balinese and Hindu folklore. These ogoh-ogoh are made by the

The Flowers of Bali: A World of Symbolism and Colour

Bali, known as the island of the Gods, boasts a variety of magnificent flora. Many of these cherished plants and flowers hold a cultural significance and are admired for their beauty. Importantly, the flowers of Bali play a vital role in various ceremonies, rituals and celebrations. Rooted deeply in Balinese culture, they hold deep meanings

Traditional Balinese Clothing

Guide to Traditional Balinese Clothing: Symbolism, Meaning and What to Wear

Bali is of course known for its vibrant and visual living culture, and Balinese traditional clothing is certainly part of this tapestry. Making their way to temples, hosting grand ceremonies, from weddings to blessings, there are very specific attire that the Balinese wear. Whether you’re a local resident or a visitor, understanding the traditional attire

Kulkul: A Traditional Balinese Slit Drum

One of the most remarkable aspects of the Balinese culture and traditions is the fact that, despite the ever-changing times and technology-driven world, many of them are still kept alive even today. An example of this is the “kulkul” or Balinese Slit Drum, an age-old traditional percussive device constructed out of wood or bamboo used

Mt. Agung: Home of Myths and Legends

There are many stories that surround Bali’s highest and holiest mountain. From how it was formed to the dragon that lives within, Mt. Agung is more than just a towering volcano on the landscape. Standing at 3,031 metres high in Bali’s eastern-most regency of Karangasem, Mt. Agung dominates the horizon on clear days, appearing suddenly

Gelungan Payas Agung: The Ceremonial Balinese Headdress

The Gelungan Payas Agung is a stunning crown: it is the piece de resistance of the formal Balinese ceremonial attire, which is also known as payas agung. This striking outfit is most commonly used for Balinese weddings, though is also used during other important ceremonies, namely the metatah (or mepandes) tooth filing ceremony or the

Genta: The Balinese Priest’s Sacred Bell

The piercing rings of the genta are heard at every ceremony, big or small. They are a ubiquitous sound in Bali, ringing in temples, roadsides, homes and even over the radio in Bali’s Puja Tri Sandhya, call to prayer. Held in the left hand of the Balinese Hindu priests, and accompanying the chants and mantras,

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