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Ritual and Efficiency  

by on Thursday, 2 August 2007No Comment | 1,224 views

Rituals and ceremonies have become indispensable part of Balinese daily life. It seems that in their life, Balinese witness, attend, participate and organize a never-ending series of rituals and ceremonies in their life. These rituals and ceremonies demand a great deal of time and money for the preparation and execution. This fact leads to the question of efficiency of time and money in the rituals and ceremony.

There is increasing numbers of Balinese work in government offices or private companies with exact working hours and the employers do not always honor the enormous numbers of days that must be taken off to satisfy ritual requirements make a strong need for ritual efficiency especially in preparation and execution time, though most of the banjar (ward or hamlet) allow cash payments in lieu of many kinds of ritual labor for those who do not have time to work on the preparation of the ritual.

Some rituals have definitely gotten shorter in the last fifty years. The most obvious case remains that of death rituals, in which a whole series of stages from the cremation ceremony up to the elevation of the deceased to deity level may now be condensed into a single day (ngaben nglanus). The preparations for such a ritual may still take weeks; nonetheless, the shortened ritual time generally leads to lessened expense and fewer job-related conflicts. The practices of gifts and counter-gifts between the banjar members during cremation ceremony have sometimes been reduced, and that this savings in cost and time.

Another breakthrough in ritual efficiency is collective ritual. Rituals that are usually held collectively are cremation ceremony, deification of the deceased and tooth filling. These rituals cost a lot of money and time, but if they are held collectively, each participant can save more than 70 % of the ritual cost. Sometimes a collective tooth filling ceremony is included as a part of the collective deification of the deceased to further minimize the cost of the ritual.

The tradition of ngiring (following the liege lord) also can save a great deal of money. When a member of royal family or high priest pass away, the vassals / followers of the royal family or the sisya (client) of the priest can cremated their deceased family member (ngiring) along with the deceased member of the royal family or the deceased priest. This can save a lot of time and money on the side of the follower and the sisya.

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