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Birthday a la Balinese  

by on Monday, 16 July 2007No Comment | 1,049 views

Birthday (oton) of a Balinese is celebrated every 210 or a year of Pawukon calendar (pawukon calendar consists of 35 weeks) so in a Gregorian Balinese almost have two birthdays (oton) each Gregorian year. The oton is the salient anniversary for a Balinese, there even a saying in Bali which runs ‘as happy as oton’ that means extremely happy.

The oton ceremony is always held in the house compound at the traditional pavilion early in the evening. The traditional pavilion is decorated lavishly, heaps of offerings are placed on a big table or a divan while the person who is given the ceremony sit on a chair next to the priest who officiate the ceremony. The purpose of this oton is to purify and strengthen the spiritual quality of the one who undergoes the ceremony. For a well to do family an oton is accompanied by a feast, decorations, music, and other traditional entertainments.

The most important oton in a Balinese life is his first oton. At this time he is only 6 months old, at this ceremony he is allowed to touch the ground for the first time as a sign of the joining the world of human. Balinese believed that a child which is not yet reached 6 month of age has a god like status since a baby is considered recently descend from the world of God. At his first oton Balinese leave his god-like status and become the member of human race.

In some villages, a paying-karma-debt (matebusan) ceremony is accompanied the oton ceremony. Balinese believe that each human has a specific amount of karma-debt which is carried from the past life. The amount of karma debt is based on the birthday, for example a baby who was born on Monday Wage Julungwangi (Wage is the fourth day of a week cycle that consist of five day, and Julungwangi is the name of ninth week of Pawukon Calendar) has twelve karma kinds debt that have to be paid in twelve oton ceremonies, successively if the situation is favorable.

In some villages the oton ceremony is celebrated every 210 days as long as the recipient of the ceremony is still alive. But in some areas the celebration is stopped as soon as all his karma-debt is paid.

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