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Balinese Rites of Passage


Rites of Passsage are very important part of balinese life. Balinese life is defined by various rites of passage, which already begin before birth, and mark life’s important moments. The average Balinesego through as many as 13 rites of passage throughout their lives.

Mepandes: Tooth-filing Ceremony – Balinese Rites of Passage


One of the most important rituals is the ‘tooth-filing’ ceremony or ‘Mapandes’ in Balinese. It should be done before marriage at any ime between the age 6 and 18. More of a symbolic measure than the actual act of filing the front teeth, the ceremony is intended to even the teeth as poited theeth sho lack of refinement, aesthetically. The ide is to get ready for adulthood and marriage.

Otonan: First Birthday Ceremony – Balinese Rites of Passage

Balinese Rites of Passage - Otonan

A child’s first birthday according to the Pawukon calendar (closer to 6months old in the Gregorian calendar) is called “oton”, a date that all Balinese people remember (sometimes more so than their birthday in the Gregorian calendar). On this day, babies are allowed to touch the ground for the first time. As babies are considered little gods in Balinese culture, the ritual also marks the beginning of the baby’s journey of losing their godlike nature.

Marriage – Balinese Rites of Passage

Marriage, wedding in Bali- Balinese Rites of passage

Marriage is an important milestone for the Balinese. It involves a traditional ceremony just like in most other countries. It takes place in the groom’s family temple. However it can be relatively simple (similar to the usual Western-style weddings), or more elaborate with rituals customised to the wedding couple’s liking.

Nyambutin Ceremony – Balinese Rites of Passage


When a baby is around three months old, he or she goes through a ceremony that symbolises the departing of “bajang”, the negative influences brought by evil spirits. In the ritual, two chicken are chosen to replace the bajang and cleanse the baby’s soul.

Based on: “Leap&Hop Bali” by Isabelle Demenge

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