Lifecycle – a Balinese Perspective

By Ketut Suardana

For The Bali Times

UBUD ~ The Universe sometimes exists and sometimes doesn’t exist. When it exists it is called Srsti or Brahman Diva (The Day of the God). And when it ceases to exist, that day is called Pralaya (Destroyed) or Brahman Nekta (The night of the God).

Nature and people follow the same cyclic pattern of birth, destruction and rebirth.

The Essence of a Human Being

People are often called Atmaja, Anuja, Ganma and Purusha.

Truth is manisfestation of Anu. In Sanskrit Anu means Atom, a fragment of God.

Human beings represent this fragment and are called Atmaja, Anuja, Janma, which in reality means soul/Atma or Anu, born complete with body. The soul originates from Purusha because it is a fragment of God. Thus human beings need guidance from God through the Vedas and holy men.

People are born with intelligence and worldly senses. Their actions results in cause and effect that directly brings on pleasure and pain.

The Aim of Ceremony

The body and soul possess different aspects and therefore the Balinese perform ceremonies to keep both these elements harmonious, balanced, holy and secure. They cleanse the body and soul of reincarnation to protect their previous Karam. It is also the time when people seek a higher level on how to speak, think and act.

Normally holy men can lead the way by conducting religious ceremonies from the time we are conceived to the time we die. During the ceremony, water is blessed to make it holy. In Bali we call this Tirta Pengelu Katan. Subsequently, this holy water is used to purify us by cleansing our bodies. The other cleansing that must be done by us are: thoughts cleansed by honesty, soul cleansed by knowledge and discipline, intellect cleansed by wisdom.

The following four ceremonies must be conducted in sequence and are part of a whole.

Mabya Kala

This ceremony is done for Pancha Yadnya. The aim of this ceremony is to make sacrifices for Butha Kala (spirits) to prevent them from accepting any other ceremonial offerings in their honor in the area and hence they must depart from that place/people. This ceremony is normally performed in the yard of the temple or family compound.

Cleansing Ceremony

The aim of this ceremony is to cleanse the body and soul. The body is cleansed by holy water, and the soul purified by praying to a holy man and seeking his blessings.


This ceremony is done to invite divinities to come down from heaven to reside in our body so that  we remain healthy and live a long fruitful life.


This ceremony is carried out after the Mabya Kala and Natab ceremonies. The aim of this praying is to seek the blessings from our ancestors and God. At the end of this ceremony we are blessed with holy water by the holy man.

Ceremonies through the Stages of our Life

I.    Pegedone-Gedongan (Foetal stage)

Five months, according to the Balinese calendar (35 days in a month), or six months of the international calendar through pregnancy, the first ceremony is performed when foetus has formed. This is done to seek the Almighty’s blessings to make the body and soul of the unborn child clean and to ensure that when born, the child will be a good human being.

II.   Ceremony at birth

There is no special ceremony at this stage, except that the placenta is washed in holy water and then placed inside a coconut. On top of the coconut is written Ongkara and at the bottom Ahkara. The coconut, fragrant flowers and thorns are wrapped in a white cloth. If it’s a baby boy, the coconut is planted on the right side of the house. And if it’s a girl, it is planted on the left side of the house.

III.  Ceremony of the umbilical cord.

When the umbilical cord is cut, a ceremony is performed to cleanse the family compound. The cord is wrapped in a white cloth and placed in a box made of coconut leaves with some spices like clove, pepper etc. and hung close to the baby’s feet.

IV.   Ngelepas Hawon

This ceremony is performed when the baby is 12 days old. The baby is cleansed with holy water, followed by prayers seeking God’s blessings to make the baby strong and healthy.

V.    Kambuhan

This ceremony, called Mecolongan, is when the baby is 42 days old. It is carried out to cleanse the baby and the mother, thereby ensuring they can enter holy places.

VI.   Ceremony when baby is 3 months

This ceremony is called Nelu Bulanin. The aim is to ensure that the soul remains in the body of the baby. It is also the time when parents name the baby. It is also known as “touching the ground” ceremony, which is done to seek mother earth guidance and protection.

VII.  Ceremony when the baby is 6 months old

This is the first birthday of the baby as Balinese celebrate their birthdays – every six Balinese months comprising of 35 days each, which makes it every 210 days. It is also the time when the baby has its first haircut, to cleanse the Siwa Dwara (the head, which is the holiest part of the body).

VIII. Teething ceremony.

This ceremony is performed (when the baby starts teething) at sunrise to seek Brahma’s and Laxmi’s blessings so that the baby will have strong teeth.

IX.   Ceremony when milk teeth fall out.

According to the Siwagama book, the baby no longer needs guidance by Sang Hyang Kumara and from then, it is no longer necessary to make offerings in the baby’s shrine.

X.    Puberty ceremony.

Especially for girls, a ceremony is performed to the Moon Goddess, seeking her guidance and requesting the Goddess to provide a life partner for the girl. Prayers are also made asking God to make the girl a useful human being for the family and society at large.

To be continued next edition.

Semoga damai di bumi, damai di hati, damai di langit

Peace on Earth, peace in your heart, peace in the sky

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