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Some Taboo Words in Bali

1 February 2009

Balinese people particularly Hindus have some taboo words, especially relating to interaction with nature. They believe in same right to live in harmony with nature. In addition, they also believe that every inch of the space on earth is under control of our unseen master. So, nobody may act, as he likes. By maintaining this harmony, they can live contagiously. As in a housing complex, when passing through forests or entering uninhibited dry fields that are off the beaten track, please get permission in your own language. A mountaineer is suggested not to say that he’s already tired of his climbing. Just keep the word ‘tired’ inside the memory. Failing with, it can happen as he says. So, he certainly could not continue his climbing.

It is said that there was a group of youngsters crossing an estuary. They would like to watch a traditional show at a neighboring village. The nearest route to get there is by crossing the estuary, as there was no bridge available then. Of course, they like to tease one another, after all they are youngsters. On the way to the location, they play with water. ‘Watch out! A crocodile is behind you,” the youngster at the rear teased. Spontaneously, all of his friends jumped out. They thought a real crocodile passed through among them. Seeing all his friends were surprised, he was very happy. But when it was beyond his awareness, a small crocodile really bit his heel. This made him crippled for the rest of his life. Actually, in the daily reality there was no such crocodile. Local people say it was duwe, a possession of unseen world that may appear in uncertain times, and can only be seen by certain people.

Another example is that about an angry fisherman. As he could not catch any fish for a long time, he prayed and begged for big fish whilst showing anger. Presumably, God confirmed his prayer and really gave him a big fish. The fisherman was glad to accept such a bounty. But, when he pulled his net, it was getting stronger and stronger. He was unable to control his net; the huge fish, just like wind surfing, it pulled his outrigger fast. He panicked and cancelled his prayer. He apologized with another prayer that he did not mean to be greedy.

After that accident, he decided to not sail anymore. Fishermen also bear in mind that if they have problem at home, like after a quarrel, they should not sail. Neglecting this may affect a problem in the sea or some other bad luck. Finally, we should at all times behave politely, not only to fellow mankind, but also with nature, including its unseen world in a silent place or open space.

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