Tooth-filing or metatah is an important Hindu Balinese rite of passage. Every parent who has a child who has reached adolescence is obliged to carry out this ritual. If someone dies before having the metatah rituals, his family must perform this ritual before the body is cremated.

Ritual tooth-filing is believed to help control six bad traits, called sad ripu, that can lead to unhappiness in life. They are: lust, greed, anger, confusion, drunkenness, and jealousy.

The metatah ceremony is conducted in the family home, and is as lavish as the family can afford. The house is beautifully decorated in colorful textiles, and the candidates dress as if for a wedding. Indeed, the ritual is often carried out in association with other large family ceremonies, such as a wedding or cremation, and often in groups of six children or more.

In the actual tooth-filing, the tips of the top front six teeth are filed crosswise so that the teeth are even. This is done by a priest or other ritually qualified person, and it entails prayers and offerings. At the start of the ceremony, the child will ask for blessings on both parents. The tooth-filing is performed while the child is lying down on elaborate cloths; often the mother holds the feet. It is not painful, but many report a shivery feeling. At the end of the ritual, the youngster will be given an object to bite representing six flavors: sweet, bitter, sour, salty, spicy, and astringent. This is as a symbol that the child is ready to feel all the flavors that will be experienced in life.

Metatah is one of the many rituals still carried out by the Balinese Hindu community. As a part of Balinese society, Komaneka participates in the preservation of traditional culture, and we are happy to share this with our guests.

Photo courtesy of https://baliartandculture.wordpress.com