My mother-in-law was born on a particular HEAVY or DIFFICULT date according to our priest, dalang and general public. She was born during 'Wuku Wayang' which is a sacred period when Dewa Kala, considered Evil but translates also into 'Time', was born.
For people born this day, as my mother-in-law, a special Wayang ceremony, Wayang Sapu Leger, is required. Children born during Wuku Wayang are considered to be a part of Dewa Kala, so, they must be purified by the Wayang Sapu Leger ceremony.
You can surely understand that most people can't afford to pay for first a big mebayu otonan ceremony plus a Wayang ceremony at once but now in her 50s, after just fully recovering from an odd illness, we all decided now was the time.
I have to confess i haven't attended to a Wayang performance for over 13 years and back then my Balinese wasn't that fluent. This time however, by understanding what the Dalang said i was truly taken by the performance and it's deep meaningful but also sometimes funny twists. I quickly understood that this was no ordinary, if there is such a thing, Wayang performance, but, the person who is to be purified and released from the Kala's grips is directly involved into the storyline by the Dalang. I have to say, the social and narrative skills of the Dalang was immense and he can take the shape and form of any kind of person or god in Bali. I could even see a few elderly Balinese friends of mine through the way he spoke. At one time he actually sounded EXACTLY like a friend of mine, the accent and the way he joked. I will get back to the story line of the Wayang performance.
Here we have some of the offerings for my mother-in-law. There were offerings laid out infront of the Bale where the wayang performance would take place and several adorned temporary bamboo shrines. Apart from this there were also offerings laid out at the Bale where our high priest would perform parts of the otonan and purification ceremony.
Here is my wife Wayan, my mother-in-law and the priests daughter and relative chatting while waiting for our Dalang to arrive.
Our Dalang, Ida Bagus Gede Puja, arrived and shortly after took place and the Wayang performance could begin. Before the performance can commence the Dalang uttered several mantras and got everything in place, both physically and spiritually. Again, this performance is not taken lightly and the seriousness of it was felt in everyone, well apart from some of the children.
The gender wayang quartet consists of 2 large and 2 small gender instruments and they mainly play 3 parts throughout the Wayang performance. An opening sequence while the Dalang does mantras and get everything ready with his 2 helpers. The performance sequence which involves the players into the storyline with the dalang. The closing sequence where the Dalang prays and lay out offerings.
The shadow puppets laid out to the left and right of the dalang.
The perhaps somewhat unusual part of this ceremony is that it was performed during the day. One could see the shadows but obviously not as clearly as during a night performance. I'm not sure if this is done deliberately or not. Most of us enjoyed the performance from the back or like myself, next to the dalangs helpers.
As i followed the story and the Ida Bagus Gede Puja's, or the Dalangs, words i grasped that he works as a penangkal or shield against evil. The story began with the Kayonan, Tree of Life, and later on about what it means to be born on Wuku Wayang or Tumpek Wayang.
At one time he discussed about 'pelih lekad' or 'born wrong' and the dalang, who has his own puppet as well, argued with the Buta's or Kala that NOONE can be born wrong. It's this tug-o-war between the Dalang puppet and the Buta or Kala gave me the goosebumps and soon i understood the immensely important role of the Dalang.
The Dalang, with other words, in the Wayang Sapu Leger ceremony does go head to head with evil spirits or the Dewa Kala. At one point the Dalang faced the large Kala who was screaming fierce simply said in regular Balinese 'Siep!' or 'Be Quiet'.
He introduced my mother-in-law into the storyline by saying,
"Here we have a person born at Wuku Wayang"
The dalang explained to the Kala,
"Even for you, Dewa Kala, there are rules in this world that have to be followed."
"If someone rides a motorcycle too fast, him you can eat."
"If someone goes to the doctor and ask for advice. The doctor tells him, you have to sleep with a blanket at night but then he goes on sleeping without a blanket, him you can eat"
"but, YOU DO NOT EAT those who are kind-hearted even if they are born on Wuku Wayang or Tumpek Wayang"
"YOU DO NOT EAT those with kind words or deeds"
"Those you have to help!"
The Kala uttered a confused 'WHY.. " and Protested with a loud and fierce roar and 'SIEP!', once again the Dalang told the Dewa Kala to SHUT UP AND LISTEN.
"Dewa kala, you have a rightful place in this world too that i cannot neglect, but, even Dewa Kala has to follow rules and stay within his domains."
"If you agree to this i will offer you 1 bottle of Arak, 2 Glasses of Brem and a white duck as a token of my gratitude"
The Kala got all excited by the offer and burst out "UAAHHhh of course i will accept" and perhaps even forgot what he was binding himself to, the rules discussed earlier.
This concept of evil having it's place but kept 'in balance' with offerings is of great importance and when you get it spelled out like this right in front of you. It's a powerful message.
After the performance and story ends with a deal between the Dalang and the Dewa Kala, the shadow puppets used are pierced into the banana stem used for the screen frame and the Dalang lays out several vials of holy water and flowers. The gender quartet continues to play the closing sequence while the Dalang make the appropriate offerings, mantras and prayers.
As my mother-in-law has already had her otonan and mebayu ceremony by our high priest now it's time for the Dalang to cleanse her.
She is literally bathed in holy water as he reads out mantras and this is another step taken very seriously. Flowers and rice grains to follow the prayers.
My mother-in-law simply glowed after the ceremony and even though trying not to smile i could spot a few burst of pure bliss and joy sneak it's way out onto her face. Glowing like a newly bathed baby.
After the ceremonies what remained was the high priest, dalang and other participants scratching their heads in confusion uttering..
"Now where did that Babi Guling go??? I could've sworn we put it on the Bale Dangin!"