The Island Of Bali, Indonesia




The two cocks, held by their owners, were brought to the middle of the arena, provoked against each other and released. The audience became tense, and the cocks attacked each other with such fury that the eye could not follow them; there were only flashes of the polished steel of the spurs in the cloud of flying feathers. Each round lasted only a few seconds; suddenly the two cocks stopped and stood motionless in front of each other, both streaming blood, until one staggered and fell dead, -lie winner crowing and still pecking furiously at the corpse.

It frequently happens that both cocks are wounded but the survivor is healed and often lives to fight many battles. A cock is disqualified if it runs away at the beginning; otherwise the fight is to death. When a cock is wounded but it is considered -hat it can go on fighting, its owner gives it strength to go on with special massages, blowing his own breath into its lungs; then it is not rare for a badly wounded cock to come out triumphantly over an apparent winner. Should both cocks refuse to fight, they are placed inside a basket, where one cannot avoid being killed. Hundreds of roosters are sacrificed in this manner in every village on the day before nyepi.

The Balinese cannot understand the attitude of the sentimental Dutch, who have forbidden cockfights. To them a rooster is as dead in the kitchen as after a cockfight; besides, cockfights are staged as a religious duty, as a sport that gives an opportunity for a little gambling and as a way to provide food for the next day. The dead roosters are taken home and cooked for the nyepi meal. After the cockfights, in Den Pasar it is customary to give a banquet for the children of each band jar, a double row of beautifully decorated trays filled with sweets and cakes served to them by the bandjar officials.

Before sunset the evil spirits had to be lured and concentrated at the great offering, the metjaru, then cast out by the powerful spells of the priests of the village. Facing towards kangin, the East of Den Pasar, were tall altars filled with offerings: one for the Sun and for the Trinity (sanggah agung) , one for the ancestors, and a third for the great kalas, the evil gods.

In the centre of the ground an elaborate conglomeration of objects was arranged: food of all sorts, every kind of strong drink, money and house utensils, hundreds of containers of banana leaf with a sample of every seed and fruit that grew on the island, and a piece of the flesh of every wild and domestic animal in Bali (a small piece of dried tiger flesh was pointed out) ; all arranged in the shape of an eight-pointed star representing the Rose of , the Winds, the whole surrounded by a low fence of woven palm-leaf.

The colours of the four cardinal points were indicated by a sacrificed black goat for kadja, the North, a white goose for kangin, the East, a red dog for Mod, the South, and a yellow calf for kauh, the West. Small pieces of black, white, red, and yellow cloth were placed over each of the animals to give further emphasis to their colour. A chicken with feathers of five colours was placed in the centre, next to a small circular Rose of the Winds made of rice dyed in the eight different colours of the cardinal directions, with a centre of mixed rice of the eight colours. The collection of all these ingredients had taken months and the majority were wilted and decomposing. On the ground at the right of the metjaru was spread a bit of rice flour in which an image of Batara kala was drawn and consecrated by a priest, surrounded by a little bamboo fence to keep the dogs from walking over it.

Facing the offerings were the scaffolds for the priests. First a long shed in which eight pedandas, the Brahmanic high priests, sat in a row, wearing their red and gold mitres and with their elaborate paraphernalia of state, ready to pray and dedicate the offerings for the gods. On the end of the shed was a smaller, lower shed where sat the sunguhu (see page 312) , the low-caste priest in charge of dedicating the offerings to the evil spirits, his specialty. These nine priests chanted powerful mantras, accompanied by swift gestures of the hands and fingers, and rang their bells alternately. There were seven pedanda siwa, one pedanda budda, and one sunguhu - a priest for each of the cardinal directions.

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Seminyak Bali Private Villa