Potong Gigi or tooth filling ceremony.
The ceremony is symbolic for Balinese Hindu teenagers who are ready to pass into the world of maturity and adulthood. This ceremony is one of 11 coming-of-age ceremonies the Balinese recognize including the Birth Ceremony, the 3 months old ceremony, the marriage ceremony etc. In the Balinese language, this ceremony is also known as Mepandes, Mesangih or Metatah. Metatah is intentioned to ease the ‘Sad Ripu’ factors. Sad Ripu means the six enemies or evil sides of the human psyche including: anger, jealously, foolishness, lust, greed, and intoxication.
This ceremony is considered very sacred and its intended for children who started growing up, where for the girls who have menses or menstruation, while the boys had entered puberty or voice has changed, this ceremony also means the parents prepare their children to a life of maturity, its also called niskala.
The six vices in human beings or also called Sad Ripu that need to be cleaned are:
1. Kama (desire)
2. Krodha (anger)
3. Lobha (greed)
4. Moha (drunkenness)
5. Mada (arrogant)
6. Matsarya (envy).
If these vices are not controlled, they can lead the young adults to things that are not good or undesirable, these vices can be harmful and dangerous for them in the future.
Therefore, its an obligation for all parents to provide advice, guidance and pray to Goddess Ida Sang Hyang Widhi (God Almighty) that their children will be spared from the influence of these 6 vices that have existed since birth.
In some parts of Bali, there is the belief that the person having their teeth filed must remain in isolation indoors for the whole day prior to the ceremony. The isolation keeps them protected from the negative influences of black magic as they are still considered immature and vulnerable to the dark energies. This doesn’t mean that other people will not able to witness a tooth filing as the ceremony itself is usually well attended by extended family. The teeth filer is a priest of the Brahmin caste known as Sangging in the Balinese Language. They use simple tools to conduct the ritual, a file, a small hammer and a carving tool. These items are purified with holy water before the ceremony. Other items provided by the priest include a mirror, a piece of sugar cane and a young coconut. The sugar cane is used to keep the mouth opened during the ceremony.
The Potong Gigi ceremony is usually held before the sun rises and is accompanied by religious prayer and song. The Coconut shell which contains the filings and saliva from the ceremony must be thrown into the sea or into the river if their places are far away from the sea within 3 days after the ceremony. After the tooth filing ceremony, the teenager is then considered to be a mature adult.