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Birthday Celebration for Puppets  

by on Saturday, 20 October 2007One Comment | 1,236 views

Today, 10/20/07, Balinese-Hindu followers celebrate the birthday of the puppet, the sacred Tumpek Wayang day. The Tumpek Wayang takes its name from the name of week of its occasion. It is in the 27th week of Balinese Pawukon cycle which is named wayang (“wayang” means “puppet”); it is celebrated every 210 days.

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This holiday is the most important holyday for owners of leather puppets and puppeteers. On this sacred day, a set of special offering is presented to Sanghyang Iswara, Lord of Puppeteers. They give special homage to their leather puppets (wayang). The puppets are taken from their box (keropak), placed in position just as if an actual performance were being given and blessed by the owner. A dalang (puppeteer) will remove all his puppets from storage and set them all up to receive the offerings.

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For the Balinese, the puppets, especially the ones which are used in shadow puppet performance are not ordinary puppets. They are invested with the magical power and have to be treated with respect. And it is the duty of a puppeteer to ensure the proper veneration and ceremony are given to his puppets on their birthday.

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Although this sacred day is a holiday for puppets and puppeteers, but it is considered very unlucky if a baby is born on this day. Such a child is prone to illness and injury from Kala, the demon god, and if such an event should take place on this inopportune day, a special ceremony has to be performed in order to purify the child and protect it from harm.

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This purification ceremony is called sudamala. It is carried out by a dalang (puppeteer) after a night or day Wayang Sapuleger performance in which the dalang narrates a story about the birth of Kala, the demon god, how he get a blessing from the god Siwa to eat every child who born in Tumpek Wayang day and how dalang receives special blessing from Kala that enables him to purify the baby that born in this unlucky day. With the help of certain puppets, the dalang carries out the ceremony, and makes a holy water (toya penglukatan) that is used to purify the baby. Pregnant women also need this holy water in order to save and protect their babies from Kala.

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