Rituals in Bali: About Black magic and ghosts

Some of the topics in this article might sound weird and maybe not worth taking seriously, but as you spend more time in Bali, you will come across some pretty scary ghost stories and rituals of the Balinese Hindu.

Rituals in Bali: Black magic and ghosts

Learn more about rituals and stories of Bali: The Island of Gods! Bali is a very spiritual place and the Hindu rituals and stories might be a bit creepy but also help you to understand what’s behind their beautiful souls.

Spirituality: Westerners vs. Balinese

In the Western mind usually space for belief in supernatural activities or anything that goes beyond scientific explanations is very narrow. Not saying we deny the existence of anything paranormal at all, but we are more surrounded by doubtful evidence of ghosts such as in TV shows like “my haunted house” or maybe when you see your partner in the morning after a long night of partying.

Balinese Hindus: It goes far beyond the belief in gods

The rituals and religion of the Balinese Hindu, however, go far beyond the solemn belief in gods, connecting to spirits and the cosmic balance of the good and the bad. When travelling to Bali, you will soon see that this spirituality is deeply rooted in their daily life.

Balinese Offerings

The island is full of Balinese offerings! You will see those little coconut leaf boxes all over the island. Am I risking possession when stepping on an offering? It manifests in the architecture of their homes, that have to follow a certain positioning of the rooms and each having its own temple. On the other hand it is visible in their daily praying and rituals. But lets stop talking about the daily responsibilities of the Balinese people and move on to stories you would rather want to read than see anyway!

Why do Locals Randomly honk although there is nobody

You might notice and wonder why the heck locals in Bali randomly honk in traffic when there is obviously nobody else around (which would otherwise totally justify the act by the way!). In that case, there must be sacred place such as a huge tree, temple or river bridge by the street and locals simply pay their respect to the spirits that are resting at that place by honking. It is just like “Excuse me please, but I must pass this place”.

Why do locals only pee on selected trees?

This one is especially for men! If there is no toilet around the first choice will be a tree. But you better watch out and double check if your fingers can touch each other while reaching around the tree. If not, better find a different spot, as it might be a resting place for spirits and ghosts. In general, it is advised not to pee in public places, but rather to search for a public toilet, as you might never know if you will disturb someone or something…

The successful Warung: Is a ghost spitting in your food?

The success of a family business (or an unexplainable sickness!) is often associated with black magic if it comes sudden and there is no explanation. Cases have been reported where gifted people saw a ghost spitting into the food. This is giving it the secret ingredient and with that the success for the popularity of that food. Tip: Compare the taste when eating at the Warung to eating at home. If the food looses its yumminess when ordering take away, it might be an indicator for the “special ingredient”. Bali’s Street Food: Eat like a local!

I want to be rich, baby!

For other cases where a person unexpectedly becomes rich, it is said that tiny ghostly creatures called “Tuyuls”, looking just like extra small babies with a bold head and diapers will serve their master by stealing money in other people’s houses.Of course these little cute helpers do not come for free. It is said that these fellas will follow their master because he lets them breastfeed on his wife.But the truth is that they will suck her blood… pretty creepy huh?


Black Magic and People that can shift shape

Say What? You heard right! An old Balinese folklore tale is about the Leak, who are humans practicing black magic. In their regular form they have a long tongue that hangs out far from their mouth, framed by large fangs. In daylight they will be an ordinary human, but as the night rises, their head will rip lose from their body flying, with the guts dangling from their head, in search for pregnant women to suck their babies blood, or that of a newborn child.


Leaks are said to be able to shift forms.

Dependent on their knowledge and level of mastering black magic, they can shift into a fireball, monkey, pig* and other forms. You might not believe these old tales, but every year during Nyepi, the day of silence and the Balinese new year, people witness fireballs fighting in the night sky, which are said to be two Leaks measuring their strengths. This is creepy? Have you heard about the Stabbing Ceremony?


(*monkey with abnormal long tail, pig with humanly eyes)

Protection – Put a red onion on the forehead of the baby

So is it in the belief of the Balinese that when a baby suddenly starts crying at night time for no particular reason, people are afraid of the presence of a Leak lose to their house. To prevent the evil creature to afflict their baby, they will put red onion on their baby’s forehead. Just like a repellent for mosquitoes but in this case it is for bad spirits.


What about ghosts in a Homestay?

Do I have to be afraid of meeting a ghost in my room? Don’t worry, the Balinese will protect you from evil spirits with their prayers when you are staying at their Homestay! Sometimes they even have an “invisible guardian” not only protecting you from spirits but even human misfortune.  

Do you want to learn more about Balinese Culture?

Meet Buda, the lovely host of Buda’s Homestay and get introduced to Balinese Religion and culture. He is an extraordinary person that has dedicated his life to his village and to achieve happiness. Buda loves to show his guests the traditional Balinese way of life such as ceremonies and Balinese Art. He will also take you on secret tracks through the rice fields, to waterfalls and hot springs. Find yourself in the middle of nowhere and enjoy incredible hospitality at Buda’s Homestay.

Local Super Hosts: All of our hosts have a big heart. But our local super hosts make you speechless: They go beyond hospitality and care about you as part of their family! Check out more places with Local Super Hosts!


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