Unveiling Balinese Superstitions: A Glimpse into Local Beliefs
Bali is a beautiful and diverse island with a rich culture and history. One of the most unique aspects of Balinese culture is its superstitions. Balinese people have a deep belief in the supernatural, and many superstitions are still followed today. Understanding Balinese superstitions can help you to better understand and appreciate the Balinese people and their way of life.
Superstitions are a complex and fascinating part of human culture. They can be seen as a way of coping with fear, uncertainty, and the unknown. They can also be a way of connecting with tradition and culture. While some superstitions may seem strange or illogical, they are an important part of the lives of many people.
Superstitions are not onli in Bali
In the world, superstitions are influenced by a variety of factors, including culture, religion, history, and personal experiences. Some superstitions are common to many cultures, whereas others are more specific to a particular region or group of people.
For example, the belief in lucky numbers is common in many cultures around the world. In some cultures, the number 7 is considered to be lucky, while in others, the number 8 is considered to be lucky. These beliefs are often based on cultural traditions and beliefs.
Another example is the belief in ghosts. The belief in ghosts is common to many religions and cultures around the world. This belief is often based on personal experiences or stories that have been passed down from generation to generation.
Superstitions can provide people with a sense of comfort and control in an uncertain and unpredictable world. While they may seem strange or illogical to some, they are an important part of the lives of many people around the world and can help them connect with their culture and tradition.
Most common Balinese superstitions
In Bali specifically, superstition is also influenced by the island’s unique culture and religion. Balinese Hinduism is a complex and diverse religion that incorporates elements of animism and ancestor worship.
This means that Balinese people believe that the world is inhabited by spirits, and that these spirits can influence their lives. This belief in spirits has led to the development of many superstitions and rituals designed to appease the spirits and protect people from harm. Here are a few of the most common Balinese superstitions:
Don’t step on a shadow
Balinese people believe that everyone has a shadow spirit that follows them around. Stepping on someone’s shadow can harm their spirit and bring them bad luck. This belief is likely rooted in the Balinese belief in animism, which is the belief that all things have a spirit.
Don’t step on a shadow of a temple
The shadow of a temple is considered to be sacred. Stepping on the shadow of a temple is disrespectful and can bring bad luck
Don’t leave your offerings out overnight
Balinese people believe that everyone has a shadow spirit that follows them around. Stepping on someone’s shadow can harm their spirit and bring them bad luck.
Don’t leave your offerings unattended
Offerings are left for the gods and spirits, and they should be treated with respect. Leaving your offerings unattended is disrespectful and can anger the gods and spirits. This is because the gods and spirits are seen as being very particular about how their offerings are handled.
Not stepping on offerings
Offerings placed on the ground, particularly during ceremonies or religious events, are considered sacred. People avoid stepping on them as it is believed to invite negative energy.
Forbidden left hand
Balinese culture considers the left hand impolite. This is because the left hand is often used for tasks that are considered to be dirty or impure, such as cleaning oneself or going to the bathroom.
This belief extends to eating, as the left hand is considered unclean, as well as don’t eat with your left hand.
Wearing black-and-white checkered patterns is believed to invite bad luck. Balinese avoid donning clothes with this design, especially during significant ceremonies, to ward off negative energy.
Taboos surrounding menstruation
Menstruation is considered a potent time, and women are often prohibited from participating in certain ceremonies or entering temples during this period. It is believed that the spiritual energy of menstruating women can disrupt the sacredness of rituals. Balinese superstition views women’s energy as particularly powerful during these times.
Don’t kill a gecko
Geckos are harmless creatures with a crucial role in maintaining ecological balance. Geckos are believed to be good luck because they eat insects that can carry diseases. Killing a gecko can bring bad luck, misfortune and can make you sick.
Don’t leave your hair wet at night
In Balinese culture, hair is considered to be a sacred part of the body. It is believed to be connected to the soul and to have the power to protect people from evil spirits. When hair is wet, it is more porous and vulnerable to attack. Therefore, it is important to dry your hair completely before going to bed, especially at night when evil spirits are more active.
Don’t cut your nails at night
Nails are also considered to be sacred in Balinese culture. They are believed to be connected to the soul and to have the power to influence a person’s fortune. Cutting your nails at night is believed to weaken your soul and make you more susceptible to bad luck. Additionally, it is believed that the clippings of your nails can be used by evil spirits to harm you. Therefore, it is best to avoid cutting your nails at night altogether.
Don’t open an umbrella indoors
Umbrellas are associated with rain, and rain is associated with death and mourning in Balinese culture. Therefore, opening an umbrella indoors is considered to be bad luck and can bring death to the household.
Don’t sit on a pillow
Pillows are considered to be sacred in Balinese culture. They are often used in religious ceremonies and rituals. Sitting on a pillow is considered to be disrespectful to the gods and can bring bad luck to the household.
Spirits in nature
Balinese superstitions often revolve around the spirits residing in nature. Locals believe that every tree, river, and rock is inhabited by unseen entities. Disturbing these natural abodes without proper respect can bring misfortune. Hence, it’s common to witness rituals seeking permission and offering gratitude to these spirits during construction projects or agricultural activities.
Unseen forces in nature
Balinese superstitions acknowledge the presence of unseen forces in nature, such as invisible beings residing in sacred places like mountains, rivers, and forests. Disturbing these areas without proper rituals may lead to supernatural repercussions.
Crossing bridges at night
Crossing bridges during the nighttime is said to bring bad luck, according to some beliefs. Balinese superstition advises against this practice, associating it with the potential for encountering supernatural entities or disturbing unseen forces.
Unlucky days and numbers
Balinese superstitions assign particular days and numbers as inauspicious. For example, the “Kajeng Kliwon” day is regarded as a time when the spiritual and physical worlds are in close proximity, potentially bringing chaos. Similarly, the number four is often avoided, as its pronunciation sounds like the word for death.
Don’t sleep with your head facing north
North is the direction of death in Balinese culture. Sleeping with your head facing north is considered to be bad luck and can bring death to you or your loved ones.
Don’t whistle at night
Whistling at night is believed to attract evil spirits. This is because whistling is often used to communicate with spirits. Whistling at night can therefore invite evil spirits into your home or your life.
Sweeping at night
Sweeping the house after dark is discouraged as it’s believed to sweep away prosperity and good fortune of the household. Balinese prefer to tidy up during daylight hours.
Don’t point your feet at a temple
Pointing your feet at a temple is considered to be rude and disrespectful to the gods. This is because the feet are considered to be the lowest part of the body.
Don’t point your fingers at a temple
Temples are considered to be holy places in Balinese culture. Pointing your fingers at a temple is considered to be disrespectful to the gods and can bring bad luck.
Avoiding naming the baby
It’s a common practice to delay naming a newborn until after the third month. This superstition arises from the belief that evil spirits are less likely to take an unnamed baby.
Don’t cut your hair during pregnancy
Cutting your hair during pregnancy is believed to weaken the soul of the unborn child and make it more susceptible to bad luck. This is because the Balinese believe that the hair is connected to the soul. Therefore, cutting your hair during pregnancy is seen as weakening the soul of the unborn child.
Expectant mothers adhere to various taboos to ensure a smooth and healthy pregnancy. Superstitions caution against attending funerals, participating in certain ceremonies, or viewing certain natural occurrences during pregnancy.
The practice of making daily offerings, known as “canang sari,” is not merely a cultural tradition but a superstitious belief. These intricate offerings, composed of flowers, rice, and symbolic items, are meant to appease spirits and maintain balance in the spiritual realm. Neglecting this ritual may be seen as inviting negative energies.
Don’t wear black to a wedding
Black is the color of mourning in Balinese culture. It is considered inappropriate to wear black to a wedding, which is a time for celebration. Wearing black to a wedding is believed to bring bad luck to the bride and groom.
Don’t give a gift wrapped in white paper
White is the color of death in Balinese culture. It is considered bad luck to give a gift wrapped in white paper. Giving a gift wrapped in white paper is believed to bring bad luck to the recipient.
Don’t give a gift of money in an even amount
Even numbers are associated with death and mourning in Balinese culture. This is because even numbers represent the completion of a cycle, and death is seen as the completion of life. Therefore, giving a gift of money in an even amount is considered to be bad luck and can bring death to the recipient.
Don’t cross your legs when sitting in a temple
Crossing your legs is considered to be disrespectful to the gods. This is because the feet are considered to be the lowest part of the body, and crossing your legs is seen as putting your feet above the gods.
Don’t take photos of people without their permission
It is believed that taking a photo of someone can steal their soul. This is because the Balinese believe that the soul is present in the image of a person. Therefore, taking a photo of someone without their permission is considered to be disrespectful and can harm them.
Don’t enter a house through the back door
The back door is considered to be the entrance for evil spirits. This is because the back door is often used to remove dirt, debris, and other impurities from the home. Therefore, entering a house through the back door is seen as inviting evil spirits into the home.
Don’t step on a shadow of a temple
The shadow of a temple is considered to be sacred. This is because the temple itself is considered to be sacred, and its shadow is seen as an extension of its sacredness. Therefore, stepping on the shadow of a temple is considered to be disrespectful and can bring bad luck.
Don’t talk about death or ghosts at night
Talking about death or ghosts at night is believed to attract evil spirits. This is because evil spirits are more active at night, and talking about death or ghosts is seen as inviting them into your life.
Don’t sleep under a banyan tree
Banyan trees are believed to be inhabited by spirits. This is because the large branches of the banyan tree are often seen as being the arms of the spirits that live within it. Therefore, sleeping under a banyan tree is seen as disturbing the spirits and can bring bad luck.
Don’t eat bananas after dark
Bananas are associated with death and mourning in Balinese culture. This is because bananas are often used in funeral rituals and ceremonies. Therefore, eating bananas after dark is considered to be bad luck and can bring death to the eater.
Don’t sing in the bathroom
The bathroom is considered to be an impure place. This is because the bathroom is used to remove waste and other impurities from the body. Therefore, singing in the bathroom is seen as disrespecting the sacredness of the voice and can bring bad luck.
Preventing evil spirits with masks
Traditional Balinese masks, often used in ceremonies and dances, are believed to possess protective powers against evil spirits. Wearing or displaying these masks is thought to ward off negativity.
Don’t give a child a name before it is born
It is believed that naming a child before it is born can bring bad luck to the child. This is because the Balinese believe that the child’s soul does not enter its body until after it is born. Therefore, naming a child before it is born is seen as naming a soul that does not yet exist, and this can bring bad luck to the child.
These are just a few of the many superstitions that are followed in Bali. While some of these superstitions may seem strange to outsiders, they are an important part of Balinese culture.
Balinese amulets (write with links): Another popular Balinese superstition is the belief in the power of amulets. Amulets are objects that are believed to have magical powers. They are often worn on the body or placed in the home to protect from harm.
Some common Balinese amulets include the Trisula (a trident), the Kebo Bule (a white bull), and the Garuda (a mythical bird).