Sound in Balinese Religious Rituals
For Balinese, sound is an inseparable part of life, especially in religious aspect of life. Sound plays important part in Balinese religious rituals, no ritual is considered complete without the presence of five kind of sounds (panca nada) which are the sound of kulkul (wooden slit gong), gamelan orchestra, kidung (religious hymn, genta (priests’ bells) and mantra (prayers).
Theologically, these five kinds of sounds (panca nada) is believed to be the replica of divine music, which God almighty bestow to human through Goddess Saraswati (goddess of knowledge). The Goddes Saraswati is symbolized with a beautiful girl who has four arms and holds a musical instrument, called Vina (guitar-like instrument) in one of her arms. The Vina itself symbolizes the divine music from which human derives inspirations to create music for glorifying the Lord.
The sound of these Panca Nada has some functions in Balinese religious rituals. Their main function is to create a decent condition for the ritual to takes place and to soothe the people’s minds so they can hold the ritual flawlessly. Other functions are as a kind offering to the ancestors and God. Musicians give their best effort to show their devotion to the God and ancestor. Balinese also believed that music can purify the Bhutakala (negative forces of nature) so they will not disturb human beings.