"Balians" are local shamans in the Balinese language or “Dukuns” in Indonesian. They are traditional healers who play an important part in Bali’s culture. They are held in high regard by the locals.
Westerners have been exploring traditional medicine for a long time, but since the early 70's has definitely taken on momentum. Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine and Feng Shui amongst the favorites. These days tourists in Bali definitely have visiting a Balian on there to do list.
Since the movie 'Eat, Pray, Love' there has been an influx of visitors looking for healers. There are tours and guides who can take you and show around. I personally have been on a 5 day intensive workshop of Balinese healing and healers, which was nothing short of miraculous. It changed my whole way of living. His name is Made Surya and his website is http://www.balihealers.com/
They work in different ways, some work with herbal remedies, manipulation, massage, meridian points others with drawings or magical inscriptions, some go into trances and communicate messages from Hindu Deities. You will find that most of them have been "chosen" and the gift has been given to them.
There a re 4 types of healers:
They act as a channel between the client and God, evoking the spirit of a dead person and they pass on information to the family. They go into a spiritual trance and usually have no memory of what they say so they usually ask the patient to write down and record what happens.
They are mediums who may not be a formal student of magic. They receive physical objects which appear and disappear, and are used during healing sessions. they are objects in the form of a bird or of an animal. The name of the divine given material is called a Pica. It may look like a piece of jewellery, stone, bone, ring, coin etc.. They both diagnose the disease and heal..
They are a healer or shaman who learns their practice from the sacred writings called Lontars. They work with herbs and non herbs.They go through an apprenticeship from a learned Balian usually passed down from a family member. They are required to complete a rigorous study program inclusive of ethics, anatomy,biology, diagnoses, herbal remedies, psychology, yoga etc. The Lontar book is called Usada, it is a modification of Ayurvedic, the traditional Hindu textbook of medicine. It is estimated that there are around 5,000 lontar usadas in Bali and in collections abroad.
They combine all of the above. They sometimes appear crazy, psychotic while the wisdom is entering them. They can read the lontars and have communication with the Gods. Some of these balians make magical drawings that have been recorded in the lontars. They come from the past and are associated with the Gods of Bali.
Expect to receive several treatments at least and it isn't always a miraculous instantaneous success. According to the Balinese, there are two qualities that may affect your health. The first one is something that can be seen like a broken bone or rash, it is called Sekala. The second one is Niskala and that is a more subtle force that cannot be seen, like blocked chakras, stress etc. When this is out of balance it can create all sorts of health problems. Balians heal both, but these days they mainly heal Niskala and the Balinese go to the local hospital for broken bones etc.
It is up to you what you will pay the Balian, but keep in mind, he is on the level of your local doctor and should be paid accordingly. It is good etiquette to take an offering to them with the token fee inside, at the end of the day they will dedicate this offering to spirit.
Your dress standards should be respectful, a sarong and temple scarf is good. Never ever touch their head or face and never point the bottoms of your feet at the healer or any other Indonesian.
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