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The Ceremony -
  Toothfiling

Called mapandes in High Balinese, matatah in Common Balinese. The reason for filing is to control evil human characteristics (sad ripu): greed, lust, anger, confusion, stupidity, jealousy, ill-will, and intoxication by either passion or drunkenness.

This important life-cycle event usually occurs when a Balinese boy or girl reaches puberty-at a girl's first menstruation, when a boy's voice changes. If not then, it must definitely take place before marriage; sometimes filing is incorporated into the marriage ceremony.

After filing, a father's duties to his female children are generally regarded as complete. Before a cremation the teeth of a cadaver may be filed. Why? Pointed teeth are likened to those of ferocious witches, demons, wild animals, savages, or, almost as bad, dogs.

A person's canine teeth, regarded by the Balinese as animalistic fangs (caling), are filed flat so the child may become fully human, able to reign in the emotions. It's believed a Balinese may be denied entrance into heaven if the teeth are not filed because s/he might be mistaken for a wild creature. In the old days the teeth of adolescents were also blackened with betel nut to distinguish them from the white teeth of animals.

Mapandes is a costly affair; invitations must be issued, musicians are hired, the fee of the pedanda is paid, elaborate offerings are carried out, and a banquet is prepared for guests and villagers. Because of the great expense, it may be delayed until enough money has been saved.

A number of families may participate in a mass toothfiling in order to share costs, or it may be held simultaneously with some other costly ceremony such as a cremation or wedding.

The banjar often determines that financial help should be extended to the lower castes to enable them to participate. To view the maximum pomp and ritual, attend a toothfiling ceremony sponsored by a Brahman family, where as many as 14 people may participate and expenses could top Rp35 million. Toothfiling represents the evening out of the extreme and kasar (rough) aspects of one's personality as one enters adulthood.

Toothfiling also adds the person of the six evil animal passions that Balinese believe everyone possesses to some degree: laziness (alus), love of sensual pleasures (raga), love of luxury and splendor (dewasa), love of worldly goods (tresna), indifference (indra), and resoluteness (baja).

Though representatives from each caste are in the toothfiling ceremony, a girl of the lower caste will be asked to lie on a platform at a lower level than her upper-caste sisters, and she wears less lavish ceremonial clothing. The most important event of adolescence, Balinese endure it with not a sound of complaint.

After the filing, youths of all castes can go on to lead healthy, well-adjusted lives as a part of Ball's tightly knit family, clan, community and society. Filing is scheduled on an auspicious day and performed by a specialist Brahman priest on a special platform. For the occasion makeshift bamboo shrines with gay, colorful offerings of rice, sweet cakes, flowers, and fruits are erected within the compound.

All attendees dress in traditional clothing, and the customary white cardboard box of snacks and bottle of sweetened tea is handed to all that enter.

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