Friday, July 8, 2011

The Temple of Evil - Dalem Peed

A great many mainland Balinese make the trip to Nusa Penida every 210 days for the odalan (temple anniversary) for Pura Dalem  Peed (this year the temple anniversary falls on Wednesday, September 8, 2010). This temple is the spookiest (“angker”) place in all of Bali. The temple complex is the really angker part of the whole island, the home of the dreaded Ratu Gede Nusa, spreader of the disease, evil, and patron saint of the leyak (witches) of Bali. The celebration is on Buda Cemeng Kelawu. The temple is the home of I Macaling, also known as Ratu gede, Ratu gede Nusa, or ratu Gede Macaling. “Macaling” comes from caling, Balinese for “fang.” Fangs are characteristic of animals, evil spirits, and the mask of “coarse” or keras characters in any sort of Balinese drama are invariably fanged.

The shrine of I Macaling is only a small part of the temple complex of Pura Peed. But the temple is best known for architecturally minor feature, and the name of the temple almost invariably evokes a feeling of trepidation in one who hears it. The temple is not one of the six important sad khayangan directional temples, but in the minds of many Balinese, it is of equal, or at least parallel, importance. The temple is not beautiful, or even attractive. The temple owns about 20 hectares (50 acres) of land on the hill nearby. Such temple-owned land is normally used to produce rental income to help maintain the temple. But the land owned by Pura Dalem Peed is barren rock. You will hear the names Pura dalem Peed (or Ped), and Pura Penataran Peed. The official name combines the both, Pura Dalem Penataran Peed.

You might well wonder why so many Balinese would visit such an angker spot. One would perhaps imagine that such a center of evil and sickness would be avoided. But the coexistence of opposites is a central thread of Hindu-Balinese thought Good and evil are, if not equally desirable, equally necessary. And if God or demon is powerful enough to bring evil and sickness, then surely he is equally capable of preventing and curing evil and sickness. According to legend, I Macaling does not indiscriminately bring people disease and death. He focuses upon those who have violated religious prescriptions and otherwise strayed beyond the bounds of accepted Hindu- Balinese behavior. Thus is considered valid and worthwhile to visit the shrine of I Macaling to seek his power to ward off evil and sickness.