Bali loses a great offering-maker

via Jakarta Post published on February 8, 2012

The predominantly Hindu island of Bali lost an influential high priestess and a great offering-maker on Monday, with the death of 111-year-old Ida Pedanda Istri Mas of Griya Alit, Budakeling.

Known as one of a few high priestesses who truly understood the physical and spiritual complexities of Balinese Hinduism, Ida Pedanda Istri Mas served as the head offering-maker at many of the most important rituals in the last century, including Eka Dasa Rudra, once in a century sacrificial ritual at the Besakih temple.

“She passed away calmly and peacefully at around 4:30 a.m. on Monday,” her nephew Ida Mangku Siwi said.

Siwi said that her extended family was yet to decide when a Palebon cremation ritual would be held.

“It has been decided that Nyiramang will be held on Feb. 12,” he said in reference to the cleansing of the body with water.

After the Nyiramang, the family and residents of Budakeling, a village 83 kilometers east of Denpasar, would carry out the Macemana and Munggah rituals to officially place the body into a state of temporary rest, which was considered to be a holy slumber until her cremation.

In their 2004 book on Ida Pedanda Istri Mas, prominent Hindu thinkers IBG Agastia and IBP Suamba described the high priestess as a Maha Tapini, an individual who has reached the perfect understanding of offering as the shrine of the divine.

Her lay and ordained disciples venerated her as Surya Kasuwun — “the sun that is placed on the top of their head” — due to her spirituality and seniority.

She was born on May 1, 1901 as the eldest daughter of high priest Ida Pedanda Gede Ketut Datah. In 1949, she and her husband, Ida Wayan Oka Karang, were ordained into high-priesthood by their spiritual mentor, Ida Pedanda Gede Ketut Kerta of Griya Panji.

In 1963, Ida Pedanda Istri Mas was appointed as one of two Wiku Tapini (high priestess responsible for preparing and supervising the creation and placement of offerings) for the Eka Dasa Rudra ritual at the Besakih temple on Mt. Agung.

As Eka Dasa Rudra was about to reach its climax, Mt. Agung erupted and sent lava, hot ash and stones down into the temple. Defying the then Bali governor, Ida Pedanda Istri Mas decided to stay in the temple and presented the offerings.

“The offerings had been completed and there was only one thing left to do: present the offerings to the God. I believed the God of Mt. Agung would protect me and indeed that was the case,” she told The Jakarta Post.

Ever since, she has played an important part in most major rituals.

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