For Hindus in Bali, performing mepandes or tooth filing ritual has become a liability. Such a ritual is believed to neutralize and provide power for controlling the Sad Ripu (six self-enemies). Nevertheless, not all people can meet the requirement to join the ritual. A lecturer of philosophy in the Hindu University of Indonesia (UNHI) Denpasar, I Kadek Satria, said in Kala Tatwa palm-leaf manuscript was mentioned that Lord Kala would like to meet his father and be recognized as his son by Lord Shiva after he cut its fangs. Having done it, Lord Shiva received and acknowledged him as his son.
Based on this philosophy, explained the Secretary of the Ritual Consulting Agency, Faculty of Religious and Cultural Studies, UNHI, the Hindus believed and made it a basis to hold a tooth filing ritual. “It is also strengthened by the discovery of ancient human fossils in Jembrana, where the teeth of human fossil in the sarcophagus were neatly cut. Then, it was interpreted if the tooth filing activity has been done since long ago,” he said.
In the ritual, the six teeth to be filed consisting of two canines and four incisors. The six teeth symbolized the control against the Sad Ripu or six enemies within the human self. The Sad Ripu or six self-enemies were the kama (desire), loba (greed and avarice), kroda (anger), moha (confusion), mada (drunk) and matsarya (envy). Essentially, said Satria, it was not to eliminate the Sad Ripu itself but to get power to control them because human needed them all for self-motivation. For example, everyone should have a desire but it should lead to a positive one. Anger and emotion were also important to flog people to attain advancement. Envy was also needed to get motivation, not to destroy others.
According to Satria, the dead person whose teeth had not been filed was also required to do so. Therefore, before being bathed the dead man should follow the tooth filing procession. However, it was not carried out by a sangging (filer) but by the oldest child or the elder. The tool used was not shaper but lotus bud.Nevertheless, not all people could join the tooth filing ritual. Its requirement was teenager or those who had performed the ritual of ngeraja sewala, menek kelih (growing up) for girls and ngeraja singa for boys. Pregnant women were not allowed to attend the tooth filing ritual because it could damage the fetus in the abdomen.
Tooth filing ritual was usually held when organizing a mapedudus agung, ngenteg linggih, mamukur (post-cremation) and mesakapan (marriage). Poor people usually joined a mass tooth filing ritual. “Mass tooth filing is legitimate, considering if the ritual is organized individually will be very costly. By doing so, it will not cost too much,” he added. (BTN/015)