And Demons are Spying

10/09/2014 17:16

In Bali the gods watch human actions meanwhile demons carefully follow their movements with their still stony and bulging eyes, crouching among temples’ lights and shadows. They don’t miss any detail while the unaware faithful come in and out.

In Tirta Empul there are challenging lion's with jaws open, could be Barongs. In Ubud are potbellied and recall to Nowhere Man’s Jeremy in Yellow Submarine. There are more lions on the legs of some unhappy at Tirta Gangga, where a ragged polychrome Rangda barely scares the children. There are moustachioed monkeys at Pura Kawi, beside polychrome Rangda, a little more dignified. In Besakih people decorate them with handkerchiefs and leave rice and fruits offerings on their hands.

Balinese believe in the good spirits who dwell in the mountains near the sacred mountain Gunung Anung bringing prosperity and auspiciousness. Monsters and demons are under the sea and evil spirits lurk in forests and deserted beaches. Traditionally island society has lived back to the sea for those reasons. Yet the demons do not represent any more evil beings that spend their time devising setbacks for humanity. They know there’s no need at the present. In island’s Hinduism, animist nuanced, there are demons known as Butas, Kalas or Butakalas. Spirits who are in the process of reincarnation get closer to the divine. Other spirits are animals and are able to threaten humans.

Demons share the same duality possessed by gods. Shiva may be the maternal avatar of Parvati or take the vengeful incarnation of Kali. Because of this duality offerings are deposited daily on the altars, dedicated to both gods and demons. Those who are in higher places beside incense smoke are for gods and good spirits. Those who have to appease the evil spirits are left in the ground.

Rangda is the most popular demon in Bali. Represents the darker, vengeful and cruel Dewi Durga’s face and is also known as the Queen of the Witches. Dominates black magic and is the nemesis of the greatest spirits who protect the island and has the ability to defend or punish minor demons. She is depicted in the shape of and old neglected woman, with dishevelled hair, claws coming out of her lower jaw and wide goggled eyes. Is in this way how takes part in the popular dances that described the struggle between good and evil. When Barong supporters attack with their kris, the ritual knives, Rangda casts a spell to have them nailed themselves. Witch's army will be defeated by Barong when he conjures the magic of Rangda. Barong is also identified with Banas Pati Raja, the fourth brother accompanying children in close concept to guardian angel. According to another version Rangda was actually Queen Mahendradatta, sister of Javanese princess Dharmawangsa who lived during the last period of the Medang kingdom in the eleventh century. Mahendradatta, was sentenced to exile by King Udayana for allegedly practicing witchcraft. Humiliated seek revenge summoning the demons that caused a terrible plague in the kingdom. Anyway they are likely the same royal family buried in Goa Gajah, near the Elephant Cave.

As who never wants to offend anyone and just like a déjà vu, Liah brings a new bunch of rice, fruit, frangipan, salt and chilli. Leave it on the domestic small shrine. Again, with routine gestures briefly inclined her head, jumps back with the agility granted her budding youth and disappears through the door into the rice fields.

© J.L.Nicolas


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