“X” Files Bali
Bali is an island where a thin line divides the sacred from the profane, the seen from the unseen, and the spiritual from existential – more popularly known in the Balinese cosmos as sekala from niskala.
The ubiquitous offerings placed each day at temples, doorways, and on window sills are created to honor all things, living or inanimate, that the Balinese consider imbued without exception with a certain spirituality. Similarly, significant natural events, disasters, or any anomaly of nature are scrutinized for possible spiritual meaning and how they may portend for future momentous or catastrophic events.
Since the early days of August 2021, videos have been making the rounds on social media in Bali showing a rare white or albino monkey in the vicinity of Uluwatu, Pecatur, South Kuta. Quoted by Kompas.com, the chief (Bendesa) of Pecatu Village, I Made Sumerta, said the white monkey was first seen on Thursday, 06 August 2021, at around 3:00 pm. “The white monkey was seen in a group of 10 other monkeys traveling in the direction of Puri Selonding,” he said.
Upon receiving news of the rare primate, Sumerta joined local religious leaders to visit Pura Selonding on Friday, 06 August 2021. At the location, the group saw the white monkey that was docile and showed no signs of aggression and approached the group of Balinese to receive food offerings brought for the group of monkeys.
Locals in Pecatu tell of a similar sighting of a white monkey ten years ago in 2011. Sumerta said he hoped that the white monkey’s appearance did not represent an ill-omen for the area or the island of Bali. “I hope the appearance of the white monkey is a positive sign. I hope we can rise up, the economy can improve, and tourism can recover from its current disastrous condition,” said the Village Leader.
Santoso said that albinos sometimes face rejection from the local troop of primates, but the white monkey in question is seen in the companionship of other monkeys.
Some locals have expressed concern that the white monkey might be hunted as a pet because of its unique coloration.
Others are asking if the appearance of the white monkey is a manifestation of Hanoman – a Hindu god and divine monkey-like (vanara) companion of the god Rama. Hanoman is a prominent figure in epic tales from the Mahabharata and symbol-ladened Puranas. Many are welcoming the sighting of the white monkey as a sign that the devastating COVID-19 pandemic may soon be at an end.
The long-tailed macaque is officially not a protected species and is at low risk (least concern) of extinction. This is due to the species large population spread over a wide geographical range.
In Bali, these primates are accorded a semi-sacred status where they inhabit temples and holy forests.
In jungle settings in Bali, the long-tailed macaque are sometimes hunted as pets or as a source of meat.