Metatah (tooth filing) ceremony in Tulamben – II The ceremony

Apr 21, 2021

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Once we were all ready, we drove to the ceremony place. A villager house, a few kilometres away. The Metatah (tooth filing) ceremony would occur as a part of a wedding. It is common to get those two together, so save costs, as the offerings can be quite costly. I payed over 200 USD, for that. This ceremony involves the presence of an Ida Mpu (high priest) and several Mangkus (regular priests). Also, the specialised tooth filers may or not be priests.

The ceremony included a few different rituals.

The funniest was when the participants kneeled and begged forgiveness to their parents for their previous evil deeds. Most of them cried. I cannot understand Balinese, much less I feel in need to beg forgiveness for anything. It felt awkward, to be among those weeping peers.

There were some parts where we were put some strings on our hands and toes, to be burned later on. Holy water was sprinkled a few times. We were also tied with coloured wool strings, along with Chinese fake brass coins. On another occasion, just before the actual filing, a mangku (Balinese priest), wrote some letters on us. He took a small green leaf stick, dipped it in some sort of oil, while waving it around our mouth, hands and back. He also recited what seemed to be mantras, from a sheet of paper.

At last, one by one, we laid on the bed and had our tooth filled. There were 14 of us, and I was, by far, the older. First, one prays. Then, lays down and gets a piece of sugarcane to bite. Then, the filers proceed, in increments. We can check our appearance and ask for more (which I did) or leave it as it is. Surprisingly, the results were quite pleasing.

At the end, we spit the remains to a small orange coconut. I was the last one to do it, so immediately proceeded to the praying area. A few last prayers concluded the ceremony while a heavy rain started pouring. Watch the make up and preparation in here.

The whole slideshow is on Youtube:


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