Fallen Tree Triggers Fears of Pending Doom

Bali “X-Files”

Rainstorms, winds, and over-saturated ground soil are the logical explanation for the recent collapse of an ancient Pule Tree in a community cemetery in the Village of Akah, Klungkung, Southeast Bali. 

Pohon Pule (Alstonia scholaris) or Blackboard Trees have known medicinal application but are also often ascribed to have supernatural powers due, in part because it commonly grows in Balinese graveyards and temple complexes.

When these trees collapse in a community’s cemetery (setra), the religious will often see such an event as portending a coming catastrophe that may claim many lives.

Quoted by Balipost.com, a community leader in Klungkung and ranking Regency Official, Made Kasta, speaking near the graveyard on Friday, 12 February 2021, said there were about five Pule Trees in the local area – all believed by locals to possess supernatural qualities. 

The five trees share the unique characteristics of being intertwined with traditional Beringin Fig Trees. Kasta related how one of the Pule Trees in Akah had recently caught fire without explanation. After concerned villagers sought spiritual advice, they constructed a religious altar (Palinggih Gedong Betel) near the location to stave off any imminent disaster.

Meanwhile, the most recent Pule Tree fell in a narrow space, just missing several religious structures. The tree also fell just before an important series of ceremonies triggered celestially by the dark moon (“jegjeg surya”).

Such is the sense of foreboding triggered by the fallen tree that people in Karangasem and elsewhere are undertaking prayers and ceremonies beseeching the Almighty that Bali is spared from major incidents costing people’s lives. Accordingly, those living in a traditional village are now looking for further abstract or spiritual signs as they prepare a major ceremony (upacara pecaruan) in the area where the tree fell,” said Made Kasta, a man respected for his spiritual intuition in Klungkung. 

Pecaruan Ceremonies are typically held in Bali to restore cosmic harmony and balance among humankind in their relationships with each other, with nature, and the Almighty (Tri Hita Karana).

Kasta, who also serves as the Deputy-Regent for Klungkung, refused to link the incident with any future tragedy or the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.  He urges all community members to pray that Bali is spared from any catastrophic event and encourages everyone to follow all local rules and regulations connected with public safety during the ongoing pandemic.

The large tree removal required at least two days of work ending on Friday, 12 February 2021, while repairs and clean up work on religious structures continues.