For several years it has become the “in thing” for tourists to pay a visit to a healer during their holiday in Bali. With the release of the film based on the wildly popular book, “Eat Pray Love,” in August 2010, the demand exceeded all boundaries. I have been told that the top hotels in the Ubud area are expected to know directions to the home of the person featured in the book. But how many of these tourists bother to learn even the protocol regarding such a visit, or learn even the most basic Indonesian language in order to greet them?
I have been asked to translate for visitors to balians by those who landed in Bali two days prior, with no background in Bali-Hindu culture or religion, something the anthropologists and historians have written volumes about. The challenge is how to present what they are hearing and experiencing into a larger context?
Basic Facts about Balians
Balinese trade information about Balians with skill and charisma, because they do not believe in anyone who is a self-proclaimed “healer.” There are bogus practitioners, some of whom are quite famous. Most Balians were “chosen,” and it is not something they chose. Most discovered their gifts in the course of trying to heal themselves. Balians do not advertise, draw attention to themselves or like to be addressed as a Balian, as this can invite jealousy and bad feelings.
• Balians receive their gifts from the spirit, as well as through study based on Bali Hindu philosophy. They credit this spirit with giving them their gift of healing. Others become Balians through a very long and intensive study and initiation from a well-known healer or high priest or priestess. They are the Balinese equivalent of a “doctor,” who has to follow an etiquette and moral code, not so different from a modern Western doctor.
• Healers are not regarded as movie stars or celebrities (so don’t treat them like one).
• There are so many types of healers who work on specific problems, from broken bones to broken hearts, mental disorders to “mysterious” problems, so choose one that is appropriate for you.
• Expect that it will be a process, and expect to receive several treatments at least and that you might have to change Balians if one does not work. (It is not an instantaneous process, so don’t expect to be healed on your way to the airport.)
• Typically, Balinese bring an offering to a healer, with a donation of appreciation inside. At the conclusion of the day, the healer dedicates this offering to their spirit in the family temple. Be generous.
• Balians are regarded a status similar to priest. Consequently, if you visit one, you should show respect by dressing in a sarong and temple scarf.
• Remember always to give your offering with your right hand, and never point the bottom of your feet at Fe.the healer. Never ever touch their head or face, which is the most sacred part of the body.
What I Can Offer: I can organize and lead a private tour for you or you and your group, I can lecture to your organization on numerous topics. I can take you on spiritual journeys in Bali, and if you have a problem, whether mental, physical or spiritual, I can make an appointment with the appropriate healer, be there with you to translate as most healers do not speak English.
What I Do not Do: I am not a Balian Referral Service to tell you who you should see in Bali. I do not take visitors to fortune tellers or palm readers as this is not healing, and it is not part of our tradition.