Balinese villagers play gamelan hoping for safe return of missing elderly woman

Ni Ketut Sami, 80, was found dead after missing for four days. Photo: Handout.
Ni Ketut Sami, 80, was found dead after missing for four days. Photo: Handout.

Ni Ketut Sami, 80, who resides in Gianyar on the northern part of Bali Island, has been missing for two days. Believing that supernatural beings hid her, locals played traditional gamelan music in their appeal for her safe return.

Sami’s son, I Ketut Pasti, saw his mother leaving their house in Buahan Kaja Village on Tuesday morning. Ketut Sami regularly goes out to find leaves so she can make offerings for religious ceremonies.

After noticing that Ketut Sami had not returned that afternoon, Ketut Pasti went out to look for her, but sadly to no avail.

“We checked every corner of the village, fields, water holes, and rivers. But until now [she has] not been found,” said Ketut Pasti yesterday.

Ketut Pasti’s family then asked for help from three shamans whose premonitions suggested that the matriarch is still not far from the village. They later continued their search with the help of their neighbors and other villagers, using gamelan to aid their rescue operation.

Usually performed as an accompaniment to an art performance in Bali, either sacred ceremonies or mere entertainment, locals believe gamelan can be used to retrieve someone who has been taken away by spiritual beings, locally known as wong samar.

Ketut Pasti added that a police report has yet to be filed, as the whole village is still observing nebasin (a ceremony to pray for prosperity), but said he will contact the authorities after the ceremony.

“We hope we can find her as soon as possible and she’s safe and sound,” said Ketut Pasti.

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