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First You Trance, Then You Dance

The 'Spirit' Literally Moves a Group of Balinese High School Student. What Ya Gonna Do? Call Ghostbusters!

(12/15/2003) The following may seem strangely odd and exotic. However, to the people of Bali and those long residents here, it is merely a story of daily life on this magical island.

As reported in the English-language Jakarta Post, tens of students at a local elementary school in downtown Denpasar (Bali) fell into a frenzied trance during the week of December 7, 2003. On Monday, coinciding with the full-moon, approximately 20 students at a Pedungan Elementary School suddenly drifted into a trance, causing them to scream wildly and begin dancing with great acuity the complex movements of the sacred Calonarang Dance. To ensure their safety, the affected students were quickly ushered off to the school's main hall where local holy men and community members hurriedly prepared offerings and prayers before dousing the children with holy waters. Once duly anointed, most of the students regained their equilibrium and were able to return to their classes and homes. Four of their number were still suspended in a dream-like trance through the following day. Then, two days after the initial incident, on Wednesday, 50 of the school's students fell into a similar trance requiring a repetition of prayers and offerings.

According to the School's Principal, Mr. Made Hara Atmaja, the epidemic of trances is blamed on the school's failure to perform the proper purification ritual during the ceremonies held one month before to mark the renovation of the school's temple. Apparently, the spirits waited until the following full moon to express their disapproval and manifest the resulting cosmic imbalance.

As you might expect, preparations are underway to perform the necessary purification ceremony and return good order to the school's campus.