‘Don’t panic’: religious authorities call for calm as reports of ‘supernatural warning’ from Bali temple fuel local superstitions

The gates of Puri Klungkung. Photo: Klungkung Tourism Agency
The gates of Puri Klungkung. Photo: Klungkung Tourism Agency

Religious authorities in Bali have called on local residents to remain calm, following viral news that the drum tower at a temple in Klungkung regency sounded itself and fueling local superstitions that it signifies a supernatural warning. 

“We ask that people do not panic, or spread rumors that have no legitimate source,” I Putu Suarta, who heads the Klungkung chapter of Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia (PHDI), told Tribun today. 

The kulkul, a drum or bell made from hollow log that is used to summon people in temples or villages, at Puri Klungkung, reportedly sounded itself, news of which quickly made its rounds across various social media platforms in Bali since this morning. Balinese Hindus believe that the kulkul in Puri Klungkung is particularly sacred, and that its sounding signifies a warning to some kind of great danger. 

“My family Whatsapp group is busy talking about the kulkul in Klungkung sounding and [we] have to make this for the entrance or at home … Hopefully everyone will be protected, not just people of Bali, but everyone.”

“This is kulkul for those of you who don’t know. It might be called kentongan elsewhere. Usually they are found at the temple or banjar. Its primary function is for communication, and sounded as a sign to gather, mark the beginning of a ceremony or a warning.” 

However, cultural and religious figure Dewa Ketut Soma also said that people simply need to be cautious. 

“Don’t take this any other way, that the sounding of the kulkul means a disaster is incoming,” Dewa Soma told Bali Post.

Ida Dalem Semara Putra, who heads Puri Klungkung, told Tribun that some local residents have come to the temple and claimed to have heard the sound of the kulkul. 

“Those of us in the Puri did not hear that sound, it’s people from the outside. But for those who believe so, they can make the means to repel misfortune,” Putra said, referring to a religious means that comprise pandan leaves, shallots and chili, among others, as seen in one of the tweets above.

The kulkul sounding off has also been linked to previous disasters on the island, including the 2002 and 2005 Bali bombings, Putra said.   

News about the kulkul coincides with heightened measures across Indonesia to contain the spread of COVID-19, as citizens are recommended to stay at home and practice good hygiene. 

As laid out in a circular issued on Monday, Bali Governor I Wayan Koster has also called on Balinese to stay at home today, the day after the Balinese Day of Silence of Nyepi, when local residents traditionally resume their daily activities or pay a visit to their friends and relatives. 

As seen in photos and videos on social media, local law enforcement authorities patrolled the streets of Bali today to ensure that people are complying with the government’s instruction.


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Read more news and updates from Bali here.

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