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Pedanda: The High Priest of Bali  

by on Thursday, 5 April 20072 Comments | 5,797 views

Pedanda or Peranda, the brahmana high priest of Bali, is a special man who have a right and ability to perform and officiate a religious ceremony, serves as a bridge between God and mortal.


To become a pedanda one has to be born in a Brahmana family, the office of pedanda is usually passed down from father to son of his choice; there is an intensive training from a qualified teacher known as nabe and a spiritual preparation required for the position. There is generally only one pedanda in a large extended family of Brahmanas, and the rest of family do ordinary labor as farmers, artisans, teachers, clerks, merchants, or even day laborers.


The pedanda’s life is strictly regimented and full of prohibitions in order to keep his holiness. He should dedicate his entire life to the meditation, the study of theology, and the practice of the ritual.


Although there are many prohibitions that have to be observed, the pedanda do not observe sexual abstinence as recommended in the scriptures. Ancestry is one of his greatest concerns, and a standing of the various brahmanic families is determined by the purity of lineage. A pedanda marries, generally once, a woman of his own caste (brahmana), who becomes automatically a priestess, who must help her husband in the ritual and who may herself officiates a ceremony in a certain occasion.


The pedanda still exert a powerful influence on Balinese life despite the fact that his relation with the people is never intimate. Most of the Balinese families has an inherited relationship with particular peranda, from whom they obtain holy water, various specially prepared offering and ritual, advice on finding an auspicious day for a religious ceremony or general moral tutelage. The Balinese term for this relationship is “siwa” for the priest and “sisia” for his follower, mean “teacher” or “preceptor” and “student” or “follower”. But as a matter of fact, for most Balinese the tie to a priest is not a “student-follower” but rather “client”, for their dependence on the priest is almost utilitarian. The pedanda is the source of holy water for ceremonies and reciter of holiest prayer.


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