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The Month of Pestilence  

by on Friday, 16 November 2007No Comment | 1,146 views

The month of pestilence or the sixth month of Caka lunar calendar, popularly known as kaenem, is approaching; Kaenem usually starts late in November or early in December and last for 30 days. Balinese believe that during this month the king of demons, Ratu Gede Nusa and his general I Macaling along with thousands of demons and evil spirits set off from their abode in the island of Nusa Penida and storm the island of Bali with various pestilences and calamities. Balinese believe that this supernatural invasion is responsible for the deaths of humans or animals which are occurred during this inauspicious month.

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Balinese use many ways to protect themselves from the pestilences and calamities which are spread by Ratu Gede Nusa and his army. The efforts range from erecting a bamboo gate decorated with thorny pandanus leaves on the entrance way of the village to wearing a bracelet made of tri datu thread (a set of threads consists of white, red and black thread), from presenting simple offering to taking protecting deities on a trip around the village to chase away the invading demons and evil spirits.

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The origin of the annual invasion of the demon king can be traced back to a semi historical event in Balinese history. During the reign of King Waturenggong in Bali, the king of Nusa Penida, Ratu Gede Nusa, did not recognize the authority of King Waturenggong over Nusa Penida Island. King Waturenggong could not invade the king of Ratu Gede Nusa since they were cousin and Ratu Gede Nusa had 500 demons warriors given by the supreme god which resides in Mount Semeru in East Java. King Waturenggong sent his minister, I Gusti Jelantik which was equipped with a kris dagger made of the tusk of the great dragon Basuki. I Gusti Jelantik managed to kill the King of Nusa penida in a duel with the powerful dagger, but before he died the King of Nusa Penida said that he and his army will invade the island of Bali annually on the sixth month of Caka lunar calendar.

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