A Teeth Cutting Ceremony / Mepandes
The teeth cutting ceremony (Potong Gigi in Indonesian or Mepandes in Balinese) is not as gory and painful as it sounds. It is a traditional Balinese ceremony that every Balinese Hindu must celebrate. It is practically like our version of the Bar Mitzvah/rite of passage.
The meaning of the ceremony is to lessen our influence of Sad Ripu that is within ourselves, a negative spiritual force that has effects on ones emotion and well-being.
The Sad Ripu can be defined in 6 different forms.
1. The need to satisfy Lust
2. Satisfaction of ones greed of always wanting to be better
3. Uncontrolled sense of Anger
4. Intoxication that brings dark thoughts to ones mind
5. Confusion and lessened concentration that effects daily tasks
6. A feeling of jealousy
The ceremony is to be held once a child reaches puberty and before they get married, however there are some exceptions. The ceremony will occur only once in one’s lifetime and is usually celebrated with all the children in the family instead of an individual. The ceremony will be taken place in ones home or ones merajan. The tooth filling ceremony will be conducted by none other than the Pendita and assisted by Sangging.
The Mepandes’s procces includes of aligning one’s teeth to not look like the demons (sharp, fang-like shape) with tools such as mirrors, dental tool sharpener, and a cloth to place holy rings and jewels. The procedure takes place at a bed that is highly decorated with golden and colorful embroideries.
If you are to experience a Mepandes, you will see it as not only a religious ceremony but a social gathering where one’s family could meet many others. The ceremony I attended was my first of my friend, Putri Magliavacca and her siblings and aunt. It was a colouful ceremony where everyone from Balinese and even their combined Italian families were dressed in colouful traditional Batik. I ended up wondering… When I will have mine?