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Sema: Cemetery  

by on Tuesday, 29 May 2007No Comment | 4,673 views

Sema, or cemetery is always a source of horror for Balinese. It is the place where the spirits of uncremated corpses wander around, playground for evil spirit and bhuta kala and of course, hunting ground for leak, the witch of Bali who fond of the flesh of newly buried corpse. Even during the day, Balinese consider sema as a terrifying place to visit and they will avoid it if possible. At night, no explanation needed.


Sema is usually situated on the seaward-west (southwest in southern part of Bali) corner of the village. Balinese believe that seaward-west is the direction of hell, the direction that is guarded by Rudra, god of evil spirit, leak and bhuta kala. This direction is considered to be inauspicious fits to be used as cemetery where evil spirits will gather and perform their bloody orgy.

Pule tree at cemetery

A sema usually has a banyan tree in the center of it. It is believed that the spirit of the uncremated corpse usually dwells under the canopy of this tree. But most of all, the sacred pule tree is considered to be the prima ballerina of the cemetery in Bali. This tree is believed to have roots that penetrated into the body of the buried corpse and suck its blood. The wood form the trunk of this magical tree is used a material for Barong and Rangda mask. It is believed that only the wood from Pule tree can give a sufficient magical power to the Barong and Rangda.



The most important part of a sema is pemuunan, or the burning ground, place where the corpse is cremated. This spot is believed to have extraordinary strong magical power due to the burning activities that are held in this spot. Newly created Barong and Rangda are usually brought on an auspicious night to perform a ngerehang (investing magical power to the newly created Barong or Rangda) ceremony.



Sema is also use as a meditating place for those who want to upgrade their black magic power, place for witch to transform their appearance into the desired form. Lately, sema is also used as meditating place for those who want to get rich by winning a togel (a kind of lottery in which the participants guess four digit number). They usually bring a special offering for the dwelling spirits in this place so the will give them the lucky numbers.



Sema is always revered by Balinese for its spookiness and of course, its dwelling spirits. When a Balinese pass a sema he will ask permission to pass safely from the dwelling spirits by saying “nyelang margi” means “borrow the road” or simply by honking the vehicle’s horn.

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