A ritual dance drama which perform in honor of His Lordship, Dewa Ratu Gede, the God of the old temple Pura Pancering Jagat ('the navel of the world') in a Bali Aga village.
This dance drama performances are seldom given and at unpredictable intervals, for any uncleanness (sebel) in the village, such as an epidemic, a crop failure, or even death, will be the reason for the ceremony to be cancelled. Recent performances were given in 1969 and 1976. It is not yet been determined when the next on will be held.
Performers of the rite are drawn from the 'seka teruna', an association of the young bachelors of the village. Their number varies, depending on how many are eligible in the chosen year, but always an odd number of young men participate. There are twenty-one masks available, and that is the maximum possible number who can take part.
Only the strong, healthy and unblemished youths are thought worthy to serve 'Ratu Pancering Jagat', and to receive him into their bodies. Before performing the dance, all of the dancers must be purified in the shrine of the Sun God, Batara Surya, sprinkled with holy water and censed with sweet and pungent smoke while prayers are intoned; at this time they are almost naked, wearing only a small loincloth.
The costumes consist of large aprons made from the dried banana leaves gathered in the forest. These have been stacked to dry beside the temple and subsequently sewn into the skirt-like aprons. Each dancers wear two of them - one hangs around his neck, while the other is tied around the waist.
The lower skirt is given additional support from a pair of criss-crossed braces made from dried fibers of the same banana plant.
The Berutuk, looks like an animated haystack on legs, with his mask frozen into permanent expression of astonishment. The ones with white or yellow color mask are said to be female while others, painted brown or red, represent males.
One by one the Berutuk come out from the underground temple, each flourishing his whips as he circles the shrine three times then wanders about at will in the courtyard, 'guarding' the shrine with fierce determination. His whips whistles menacingly and the spectators are warned not to come near.
The spectator cheer and shout, teasing the Berutuk and testing the boundaries of their territory. The more daring audience, men and women, come forward and try to snatch pieces of the sacred banana leaves away from the Berutuk, the monster, in turn, attempts to prevent it, and slashing cut of the whip as punishment for the spectator who is caught.
As further punishment anyone who has been whipped must later pay a fine to the village treasury. But the bits of banana leaf are highly charged with spiritual power - they offer protection against disease and encourage fertility in the rice-fields. Many men and women risk the strokes of the Berutuk's whip, hoping to bring home a lucky leaf to keep in the rafters of the house.
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