Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Bungklang Bungkling: Temple Paraphernalia (Pratima) by Wayan Juniartha.

Taken from ‘Bungklang Bungkling’, ‘PRATIMA’, a column by I Wayan Juniartha, published in Bali Post, Sunday 26th September 2010. Translated by Putu Semiada

Temple Paraphernalia (Pratima)

Why do some Balinese dare to steal their temple paraphernalias (pratima)?

“It is because they know how to steal it easily,” says I Made Prasangka Curiga (I Made Prejudice and Suspicious).

His opinion is based on the fact that only the Balinese know where the paraphernalia are stored and when is the right time to steal them. The Balinese also know which ones are common wooden statues and which ones are antique and worth millions of Rupiahs.

“They don’t know how to steal a motor bike because they can not make fake keys. They don’t want to be snatchers either because they think it is not a prestigious job, nor criminals as they are afraid to be caught and hit by people.”

It is considered much easier also to steal something in the temple. They know what and how to do it. And they know that a pratima is the most precious thing in the temple. And it is much easier to sell it compared to computer, television, or other electronic appliances. Many westerners are eager to buy antiques for their collections. They like to decorate their villas with old statues; Garuda statues in their living rooms and angel statues (widyadari) in their bathrooms.

“My question is why do some Balinese dare to steal pretima? Aren’t pretima sacred?” asks I Wayan Kesiab-Kesiab (I Wayan Easily Startled).

It seems that everybody cannot believe Balinese dare to do that and sell for Rupiah. Balinese ruin their own belonging.

“Well, you are all too obsessed of ‘fake image’ of the Balinese created by tourism industry that the Balinese are 100% good people, love their families, like to save their money, love peace, not worldly minded, honest, clean and fair,” comments I Madé.

As a mater of fact, there have been many Balinese doing bad things such as stealing and selling sacred things.

“Look! Who sell the temples-owned lands and the beaches where we do ‘melasti’ ceremonies; sign papers that allowed the investor build golf course at Tanah Lot; ‘magical power charging’ for a political party’s flag and political oaths at temples. Whose ideas are they to make many kinds of ceremonies so that they are able to make good business from selling offerings? Who claim themselves of going into trance and calling the gods’ names (Ida Bethara)?”

“It’s not the Javanese nor the Muslims do that. It’s the Balinese who steal, sell, and ruin their own island.”

The question is why the Balinese steal pretima? Probably it is because that’s the only thing left. The rest has been sold.

And why do they dare to steal the sacred things? Because nothing is sacred in Bali anymore. The ‘sacred’ thing is only the Rupiah.