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“Night” in Balinese Point of View  

by on Tuesday, 26 February 2008No Comment | 4,147 views

As the sun sets and darkness replaces the illumination of the sunlight, night makes its way to the earth. “Night” is a phenomenon that all nations in the world have their own point of view, including Balinese. Balinese has their perspective on dealing with night. However, this perspective has greatly changed in the course 50 years due to modernization and tourism.

Title: The Dagger Attack On Rangda, Artist: I Gusti Nyoman Lempad, Media: Ink and tempera on papper, Size: 24 x 33 cm, Year: 1939s, Courtesy: Neka Art Museum.

In the bygone days, night was considered as the time for supernatural beings, malignant spirits, bhuta kala, leak (witch) filled the darkness of the night. The older generation of Balinese see the night as a dangerous time for traveling outside the house compound, though the gamelan at that time was held in the evening but it never lasted until late at night.

What made the night so frightful in those days? Leak (witch) was the answer. Malignant spirits and bhuta kala are believed to be ferocious at dusk and the night is the time for the witches to exercise their magic and fighting among them. My mother and grandmother still can recall the night they watch a leak fight, though all they can see at that time is the collision of two balls of fire. (Covarrubias also gives an account of leak fight in Denpasar in his book “The Island of Bali”. Leak at that time also credited for harassing people who dared to go out during the nighttime.

With the introduction of the phrase “night life”, nowadays, night in Bali is just an extension of the day, the time to do the activities which we can not do or not enough time to do them during the day. Night also turns into a time for having fun or hang out with friends after a day full of works.

The phrase “night life” is not just fully understood in Kuta by its bars and discotiques but also by the Badung traditional market (well known as Kumbhasari); this traditional market runs 24/7 except on Nyepi (Balinese New Year).

The report on activities of the leak (witch) during the night is decreasing year by year; the passerby who hit the road during the night is almost free from the harassment by the leak. Some say that the installation of the bright street light makes the street well light and discouraging the leak from doing their favorite pastime.

Night as the special time for underworld fiends, malignant spirits and witches has slowly replaced by the “night life”.

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