The Island Of Bali, Indonesia



Ordinary offerings to the house and for temple feasts are made by any woman; but for special occasions an offering, to be effective, must conform to certain specifications based on the influences that rule the day: the calendar, the cardinal directions, numerology and so forth. Each day of the week has its colour and numerical value that dictate the flowers to be used and the number of units in the offering. These rules are often specified in the adat, the traditional village law, but they are better known to professional offering-makers, Brahmana women (Idayu), who are engaged for a fee to direct the making of them.

The Sunguhu. Sunguhus are low-caste priests whose main office is the dedication of devil offerings in ceremonies of purification. Although Sudras, the sunguhu are a proud caste in themselves and claim descent from Sanghyang Tunggal and from Sanghyang Meleng, the Sun. The paraphernalia of the sunguhu, although generally poor and in deplorable condition, and their ritual are practically identical with those of the high Brahmanic priests; but accessories peculiar to sunguhus are the conchshell blown by an assistant during his prayers, and the double drum similar to that of the Tibetan lamas, which in Tibet are made of two sections of the top of human skulls.

Like the high priests, they wear their hair long and in a knot, worn low at the back of the neck and not on top like the pedandas, because the worthy I Tusan, patron saint of blacksmiths and the greatest ironworker of ancient Gelgel, was unjustly exiled by a pedanda, who in time repented and, troubled in his conscience, tried to restore I Tusan, going into the forest in search of him. The blacksmith agreed to return onlv on condition that the pedanda carry him on his back. He had to complv and all the way the blacksmith hung on to the priest's topknot, pulling it down his neck (De Kat Angelino: Mudras auf Bali).


Dr. Goris (Secten op Bali) is of the opinion that they were the priests of the wesnawa sect, now disappeared, the worshippers of Wisnu and Sri. His attributes - the conch-shell, the turtle, the fiery wheel ( tjakra ) - are all Visnuite symbols. Furthermore, his spoken formulas, like those of the high priests, are in Sanskrit. He is in charge of the offerings of the Underworld, in contrast to pedandas, who dedicate the offerings to the Sun and Sky. All legends of the origin of sunguhus agree that they were high priests degraded in rank because of some fault or because they worshipped demoniac characters.

The Usana Djawa mentions that they were Brahmanas degraded because they worshipped the devil Dalem Mur Samplangan. Sunguhus also claim to be descended from the two sons of the great religious teacher Mpu Bharada; one branch of the family was degraded. They claim further that they were pupils of Mpu Kuturan, Bharada's brother, but never attained great wisdom and did not become full-fledged high priests, but only budjangga bali, a term for sunguhus for which there is no satisfactory explanation (a child of a Brahmana and a Sudra becomes a budjangga ).

Another manuscript states that the sunguhus were descendants of I Guta, a fallen dweller of the sky, who on earth became a man-eating raksasa. He became a servant of Mpu Djidjaksara, cousin of Mpu Kuturan and Bharada. He imitated his master at office, but was caught in the act and from then on was allowed to officiate as priest of the devil offerings (Korn: Adatrecht van Bali).


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