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    Can the Balinese control the rains?

    Anyone who has been to Bali will know that the Balinese have ceremonies almost all the time. They even hold ceremonies 24/7 for months. As almost all ceremonies are outdoors, it is crucial that the weather is good for the occasion to be a success. What happens though if the weather is bad, say raining non-stop?

    Usually if there is a risk of rain – for example, if the ceremony is in the mountains or being held in the middle of the wet season – then a special rain stopper called a ‘tukang/juru terang’ is sought after. Tukang or juru means someone who does a job and terang means ‘clear’. Even though Balinese Hindus believe that everything in the universe is controlled by God, by using a tukang terang one can pray that foul weather won’t inhibit a special ceremony or occasion being carried out.
    To either stop or start the rain, offerings, mantra and prayers are made, and the tukang terang is also paid a small fee of a few thousand rupiah called sesari which is placed on the offerings.

    Tukang terang are almost the same as a balian (a magical healer and wise person) except that their expertise and powers are focused specifically on controlling rain. In some families, there may also be a person who has trained in black magic who can control the rains. A tukang terang can also make rain, just like the American Indians, and on occasion may have ‘rain wars’ between other tukang terang. This is not uncommon, especially if the rain is caused by a person trying to stop a particular ceremony due to envy or hatred of another family.

    Don’t forget that we’re right smack in the middle of the wet season at the moment, so if you’re planning a ceremony (or a gamelan and dance performance!), you’d better get the number of a good tukang terang, just to be safe…

    © Vaughan Hatch 2010

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