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Home » Tale

A Balinese Folktale: The Origin of Wayang Lemah  

by on Sunday, 16 September 2007No Comment | 964 views

In an uncontrolled fit of temper Giriputri the mountain goddess and wife of Bhatara Siwa, had so mistreated her child Sanghyang Kumara that Siwa banished her to the middle world. There she was to remain, ugly, with large, flaccid breasts and demonic canine teeth, and rule the death temple and the burial and cremation grounds. From this moment on, humanity in the realm of Medan Kumulan was afflicted by pestilence and death.

Much later the god Siwa felt an urge to visit Giriputri, whom he had cursed and who was now known as Bhatari Durga. After transforming himself into the demonic Sang Hyang Kala Rudra, he met Durga at a crossroads, copulated with her and thus begot the three demons, Bhuta Bang (The red Demon), Bhuta Sweta (The White Demon) and Bhuta Ireng (The Black Demon). Together with the spirits of disease Bhuta Brelaga, they now caused terror and disaster throughout the country.

In great concern over the future of humanity, Bhatara Brahma, eldest son of the divine couple Siwa and Giriputri, summoned his two younger brothers Wisnu and Iswara to a conference. After Bhatara Wisnu had thought the problem over carefully, he suggested that all there brother should appear in the middle world as priests to arrange for various necessary measures to be taken against their parents’ demonic emanations.

After a quick flight to earth, the there divine priests went to the court of King Takipati of Medan Kemulan ; they had him inform them of the situation in the country and then strongly advised him to begin preparations for major sacrifices (caru-caru) to appease the demons. Furthermore a long house, Bale Agung, for men and goods to meet, a special building for offerings and a platform as ritual seat (palingihan) and place of worship for the three divine priests were to be constructed.

King Takipati passed these commands on to his chancellors (patih), and the preparations were carried out according to plan despite considerable interference on the part of the demons and spirits of disease. Then a powerful sacrificial rite began in Medan Kemulan, in the course of which the god Iswara, as priestly performer (dalang), put on a wayang play in daylight (wayang lemah) this gave him the opportunity to let his father known in an indirect way, as is the custom in Bali that he and his brother disapproved of his actions as Kala Rudra. The topic of the play, during which Brahma and Wisnu in the shape of priests assisted him, was the fateful encounter of Kala Rudra and Durga, the origin of all subsequent evil.

Bhatara Siwa who had had firs watched the revealing play with displeasure, ultimately had to admit that we was ashamed of the consequences of his deed. But he said that his perfection and goodness were restored now that he had seen the wayang lemah play. He therefore demanded every sacrifice performed for the Bhuta (tawur-tawur Bhuta yajna) by man should in the future be accompanied by a wayang lemah given in honor of the heavenly gods. Now Bhatari Durga who had appeared on the scene as goddess of the chthonian temple (kahyangan dalem), Dyah Bhagawati naturally demanded tribute has well. After her husband had already been promised a wayang play (waya-waya) in the course of all bhuta yajna, she prescribed the performance of special rites (ilen-ilen) to appease bhuta bregala when ever dewa yajna, were carried out. What she meant by this was above all the ritual dances papendetaan, saseramanan, rejang and the symbolic self sacrifice with the keris pointed at one’s own chest.

After the three worlds were obviously in harmony again, Bhatara Brahma asked his two younger brothers to return to heaven with him.

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