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Pakelem Ceremony Held

Balinese Hindus Offer Prayers and Sacrifices as a Response to Sumatran Earthquake.

(1/10/2005) Pakelem Ceremony Tri Hita Karana is the central creed of the Balinese cosmos. It demands that the harmony of the universe always be preserved between man and God, between Man and the physical world, and between man and man.

Recent natural disasters both natural and man-made are seen as imbalances in the cosmos that must be addressed in order to return the balance and harmony mandated by Tri Hita Karana.

In response to the tragedy of the North Sumatran earthquake and tsunami of December 26, 2004 and other recent disasters in Indonesia, large groups of Balinese Hindus gathered for a Pakelem or Bhuta Yadnya Samudra Kerti ceremony held on the morning of January 9, 2005, on Bali's Sanur beach. Prayers and sacrifices aimed at returning balance to the physical world and appealing for protection for Bali were led by three high priests of the Balinese Faith Ida Pedanda Gede Oka Timbul, Ida Pedanda Gede Ngurah, and Ida Pedanda Ketut Mas. The day of faith comprised seaside prayers, incantations, and music, culminating in a dramatic live sacrifices of domesticated animals - including goats, ducks and chicken which were all towed to sea in a boat and ritually drowned.

While the slaughter of so many animals may be seen as inhumane from a certain perspective, their deaths were seen locally as required to return balance to the world and stability to nature. The animals chosen for the sacrifice were lovingly selected and treated with great reverence, the participants believing any animal dying in such a manner is virtually guaranteed rebirth in a higher, improved incarnation.

The estimated costs of the rituals to safeguard Bali were Rp. 50 million (approximately US$ 5,500).

Later in the afternoon of the same day, prayers were held at the Provincial Parliament building organized by Ghandi Puri Ashram. In keeping with Balinese traditions for mutual respect among all religious groups - leaders of the Islamic, Protestant, Catholic and Buddhist faiths accepted invitations to participate in the prayer meeting.

The religious leaders in their prayers and comments echoed the common theme that the recent natural disasters have taken victims from every race and religion, demonstrating once again the equality of all men in the eyes of God. The speakers also spoke of the opportunities for brotherhood and solidarity offered in the midst of the current unprecedented tragedy.