Resulting respectively from “good” and “bad” deaths. A “bad” death, generally premature or violent such as a murder or an accident, realeses a vengeful ghost or hantu that may bring considerable misfortune on a houshold or community. The soul of a woman who dies at childbirth, for example, is pictured as a bird with long talons that jealously stabs and rents the stomachs of pregnant women. This so – called pontianak can also assume the shape of a beautiful maiden, who waits at night beneath a banyan tree to seduce amnd emasculate passing men. Elaborate rituals must then be performed by a shaman to mollify the evil hantu and banish it from the area.
In Bali, mass exorcisms are held annually to drive evil witches and demons from the villages. For several days before the spring equinox, there is great excitement all over the island as houses are cleaned, village gods are processed to the water for a symbolic bath, great altars and offerings are prepared, and cockfighting and gambling are prevalent.
The day before the Balinese New Year, evil spirit are lured by priests into a large offering in the shaped of an eight – pointed star (meracu), after which all hell breaks loose as the villagers beat drums, shriek and shout to drive them away. This is followed by a day of complete stillness (Nyepi), in which all fires and normal activities are suspended, lest the newly banished evil spirits should return.
–> Read Also : Custom and Religion In Indonesia – Mortuary Rites