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Twins in Bali - Manak Salah

Too Early Born Twins and Traditions

A few months ago, a woman in Sukasada sub-district of Buleleng, gave birth to twins who were different in terms of their sexes. One of the twins was a boy and the other one was a girl. The twins died not long after they were born because it was not yet their due time. In Bali, twins who are born with different sexes called “Kembar Buncing”. The tradition in Bali assumes this condition as “Manak Salah” or unusual children. The parents will be isolated for three months (3 tilem) in the village graveyard or in the estuary nearby. The twins who are born, if they can survive they should be raised separately.

Even, the parents will give one of them as adopted child to other parents. It is done to avoid disaster that may happen to the parents and also to the villagers where they live. It also happened to the parents in Sukasada. Although the babies died, the parents should be isolated in the estuary near the village. There, they live for about three months in a hut built by the villagers. They should purify themselves and they are not allowed to leave the place until the isolation or the purification time is over. The villagers will give them food everyday and also the family of the parents will accompany them or visit them.

“Manak Salah” is a term in Balinese old tradition given to babies who are born unusually. Perhaps, long time ago, the case of giving birth to different sexes twins were not a common thing so Balinese assumed that the twins were prophecy of the coming disaster. Actually, there is nothing said or spoken about Manak Salah in Hindu. It is truly the original tradition of Balinese. No one knows who and how this Manak Salah tradition adopted in Balinese tradition. According to “Hindik Manak Salah” transcript written in Bali letters and then it was transformed into Latin by I Goesti Poetoe Djelantik from Singaraja in 12 September 1912, there were rules and punishment to parents who gave birth to different sexes twins.

The rules and punishment were behaved to all of the people without the consideration of their castes (Brahmana, Ksatrya, Waisya, and Sudra). The parents had to move their place and did Yoga to purify their condition and the village for three months. If they didn’t do that, it was believed that the country would not safe anymore, there were many diseases would attack the country, and they would have such a long drought. After the purification time was over, the villagers would conduct a ceremony to purify the earth.

Other story said that the belief of Manak Salah is due to the belief that the different sex twins born to the world were a couple of husband and wife. They were so much in love one another that they promised to be always together in their next reincarnation. Then, they were born as “Kembar Buncing” or twins who are born in different sexes. To avoid bad things happen to the family, the babies then raised separately. One of them will be raised by their parents and another baby will be raised by the grandparents, relatives, or close friends.

In Bali, there are many villages that still adopt this tradition although the government rule has prohibited this tradition due to Human Rights issue. Now, the villages that still adopt this tradition change the punishment into the purification time only. The parents who have twin babies with different sex should purify and do Yoga because tradition is tradition. But, many people think that this tradition should not be adopted anymore.

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