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Home » People & Community

A Land in Bali  

by on Monday, 7 May 2007No Comment | 1,734 views

A piece of land is not “just a piece of land” for Balinese, there is something in the land or place that is revered and sometimes feared by them. something unknown, mystical but produces significant effect to Balinese everyday life even to the Balinese community since Balinese believe that mystical realm cannot be separated with the physical world.

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The concept of rwa bhineda, two (opposing yet depending on each other) force of nature underlies the distinction made in Bali between the places considered tenget or angker, i.e. uncanny, magically dangerous, possessed by evil spirit or bhuta kala and places that are suci, nirmala, i.e. pure, clean, holy or consecrated by man with divine help. The implementation of the distinction of these two kinds of places can be found in the outline of a Balinese house compound or village.

The tenget or angker place usually the graveyard is usually situated on the seaward-west (southwest in southern region of Bali) corner of the village, since this corner is considered to be the most impure spot in the village territory. For the same reason, the animal pen (usually pigpen) in each house compound in Bali is also located in the seaward-west corner of the house compound.

The suci or holy place in the house compound or the village is always located on the mountainward-east (northeast in southern region of Bali) corner of the house compound or village territory. This corner is considered the holiest place in the house compound or village territory since it is closer to the mountain (abode of God) and to the sun).

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Whether it is a tenget place, or holy place or just a neutral place, all land in Bali and everything grown on it belongs to the invisible ancestral deities and the earth spirits inhabiting it, a Balinese would never dare to cultivate a piece of land without first asking the local earth deity’s permission. After he has cultivated the land, he will build the deity an altar so he can give offerings of thanks. A tenget and suci place usually has it own altar or at least a simple bamboo stand for offerings erected by the surrounding inhabitants to ensure the peaceful and harmonious relation with the earth spirits in that place.

There even a temple erected for the local earth deity to ensure his participation in protecting the land and his inhabitant. There is usually one or more Pura Banuan (spirit of earth temple) in every village of Bali especially in agricultural village. There is also Pura Meduwe Karang (owner of the land temple) in Kubutambahan village that is established to honor the feared spirit of the land (Jero Gede) who reigned over the dry land.

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