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The Pied Piper of Tabanan

Bali Employs Royalty and Spiritualism to Fight an Infestation of Rats Threatening the Rice Harvest.

(7/28/2008) Radar Bali tells of how a recent plagued of rampaging rats are threatening the rice crop in the Tabanan area of West Bali. In addition to a number of conventional rodent control measures being used to fight the vermin, some time-honored steps connected with the deep spirituality of the Balinese are also being put into play. In the case of Tabanan, these have included a Nangluk Merana Ceremony - a large parade of devout Balinese around the fields and streets of Tabanan with Raja Ida Cokorda X of the Puri Agung Tabanan Palace carried along on a ceremonial palanquin.

The ceremony in which the Raja was hoisted through local rice fields is the second ceremony of its kind in recent days held at different villages within the Tabanan Regency.

Widely believed to be an effective means to expel rats from rice fields, the processions included the participation of local religious persons, hundreds of villagers and local officials from the Department of Agriculture. The ceremony saw the Raja greeted at his palace by the local populace before being carried to the local village temple where prayers are offered and holy water sprinkled. Following a stop of the Pura Beji the Raja continued to be carried on his palanquin before arriving at the Pura Ulun Suwi for more prayers offered in unison with the Raja's "subjects." Holy water is taken from each temple or pura visited by the entourage and used to "bless" the agricultural fields along the route.

A local religious spokesman told the press he was certain the religious ceremony would finally rid the area of the highly destructive rats. Efforts to install traps and use rat poison have only seen the plague of rodent escalate with locals now employing the "more sure fire" and very Balinese spiritual approach of involving their King and their God.