Tragically in the Mood

Dancer in North Bali Performing Sacred Ritual Dies After Impaling Himself on a Sword

A Pujawali Ceremony at the Village Temple (Pura Desa) of Nagasepeha, Buleleng Regency, on Tuesday, September 25, 2018, took a tragic turn when a devotee, Ketut Sudira (55), died after stabbing himself with a ceremonial sword (keris).

As reported by Radar Bali, Sudira, who was from the village of Nagasepeha, reportedly became “possessed” during the course of the religious ceremony and stabbed himself fatally in the abdomen. The man was performing a dance called Ngigel Desa that is performed once every two years by Balinese who are newcomers to the village who are seeking acceptance as “naturalized” members of the local community.

Incidents of divine possession in religious ceremonies or sacred dance are not uncommen in Bali. Possession can manifest itself in a number of ways, including frenetic dancing and the victim trying to impale him or herself on a traditional sword. Typically, while the blade of the sword may bend from the force of the thrust, actual injuries are rare. Local belief and custom credit the lack of serious injury to divine intervention.

While the “keris” will normally not penetrate the flesh of a possessed devotee, in this instance Ketut Sudira drew blood and the sword cut deep into her abdomen.

The man was rushed to the Buleleng General Hospital but died due to loss of blood enroute to the emergency room.

Police are handling the death as an incident of misadventure.