As a society that still strongly holds traditional practices and culture, the Balinese people see themselves as an infinite entity; one that is powered by ‘regeneration’. This is why having children is a huge deal for Balinese society, for children allow the continuation of a family cycle, which allows the continued function of larger entities such as the village community and society as a whole.
Speaking about traditional practices, getting married is a clear way for one to build a family. With that being said, it’s a common practice in Bali for couples to get married after the women are pregnant. And this makes sing belong sing nganten, meaning “no baby no marriage” a popular term here on the island.
Anyway, what happens when the woman is pregnant and the couple remain unmarried? Well, it may sound biologically impossible, but the woman will show no physical sign that she’s pregnant. This means that even though she’s been pregnant for seven months, her tummy will stay as flat as a pancake.
That’s right, just like many other cultures from many corners of the world, Bali has its share of pregnancy myths – with the flat tummy when unmarried being one of them. And once married, the belly will pop, making it very apparent that the woman is pregnant in just one sleep. Of course we don’t just make this up, for I’ve witnessed it happen to a number of my Balinese lady friends and servers at our favourite restaurants. We came to their weddings, saw them looking pretty wrapped in the intricate and tight traditional wedding attire with no sign of pregnancy, and found them looking really pregnant the next day.
A number of Balinese we spoke to argue that the baby will only reveal itself after receiving blessings from a priest, such as those in a wedding ceremony. It’s after then that the sanghyangsuksma, or the gods as well as holy spirits of the ancestors from both the male and female sides will care for the foetus, protecting it from evil forces.