Annual Outbreak of Pestilence
The sixth month (kaenem) of Balinese Caka Calendar starts today (11/28/08). For Balinese especially the older generation this moth is associated with plague or pestilence, which is called “grubug” by Balinese. When this month comes, my grandmother usually tells me stories on how, in the bygone days, every kaenem (the sixth month) her fowls and pigs died with no apparent reason and how this event repeated in the followings years. But nowadays she said, she rarely can see ‘grubug’ attacking the fowls and pigs. To this statement I just said, “day by day, fewer and fewer Balinese keep fowls or pigs especially in urban areas, so you will not likely see a ‘grubug’ strikes the fowls and the pigs.
This belief on the annual outbreak of pestilence in the sixth month (kaenem) originated from the semi-historic story of the expedition of Balinese army to island of Nusa Penida during the reign of King Waturenggong in Bali around 11th century. The story goes as follow:
During the reign of King Waturenggong in Bali, the king of Nusa Penida, Ratu Gede Nusa, did not recognize the authority of King Waturenggong over Nusa Penida Island. King Waturenggong could not invade the king of Ratu Gede Nusa since they were cousin and Ratu Gede Nusa had 500 demons warriors given by the supreme god which resides in Mount Semeru in East Java. King Waturenggong sent his minister, I Gusti Jelantik which was equipped with a kris dagger made of the tusk of the great dragon Basuki. I Gusti Jelantik managed to kill the King of Nusa Penida in a duel with the powerful dagger, but before he died the King of Nusa Penida cursed that he and his demon army will invade the island of Bali annually on the sixth month of Caka lunar calendar.