Birth Day or Birth Date?

FRIDAY (Jan. 11) is the celebration of the eighth birth date of Bali Travel Newspaper, so after that it enters the volume IX. As a biweekly tourism newspaper, it has published 192 issues in the course of eight years, where the Volume IX (in 2019) will then starts from Number 193 as the first issue of the newspaper.

Dear readers, in Bali we use two kinds of calendars, namely the Gregorian calendar as the Christian calendar that currently counts the year 2019. Meanwhile, the calendar commonly used by Balinese people for ceremonial activities (such as piodalan or temple anniversary) is called Pawukon calendar. Besides, they also use Caka calendar (2019 = 1940 Caka calendar) as well as calendars of other religions.

Gregorian calendar as used by Christians (Christians and Catholics) has 366 days each year. In the meantime, the Hindus in Bali using the Pawukon calendar having 210 days or around 6 months of age (half age) of the Gregorian calendar.

Otonan, a birthday in Balinese tradition

Most people are familiar with birthday denoting the celebration of the birth day based on the Gregorian calendar. Birthday celebrations based on the Christian calendar are only ceremonial (rah-rah?) and only has slight contact with spiritual values ​​or worship.

Long before the Western influence came to this archipelago, Indonesian citizens had known about birthday celebrations with various terms. One of which was known as selametan as found in Java. In the Balinese Hindu tradition, it is known as the otonan.

The word otonan is derived from the word wetu which means ‘be born.’ After getting confix, this word becomes pawetuan meaning ‘birth.’ The word pawetuan experiences conjugation into paweton, and finally becomes the word oton or otonan which means ‘the day of birth or birth day.’ Otonan is also called palekadan equally means ‘birth day.’

Generally, the otonan is celebrated along one’s lifetime. In other words, even though someone is old, he or she still commemorates the otonan. However, in some regions in Bali, the otonan is sometimes only celebrated until someone grows adult. For example, one will no longer celebrates the otonan when having celebrated the adolescence ritual of menek truna (for boys) and menek daha (for girls). Both rituals of life cycle are similar to sweet seventeen celebrated with great fanfare by inviting all big families and close friends. The advantages of otonan, menek truna and menek daha are accompanied with grandiose ritual paraphernalia to worship God.

In the post-modern era like these days, the otonan celebration seems to have been forgotten, especially in urban areas. Actually, it is far more sacred than the Christian birthday. Commemorating the otonan is sometimes considered archaic rather than commemorating birthdays.

Difference of otonan and birthday

The otonan tradition is now increasingly marginalized. Balinese children prefer to celebrate their birthdays rather than their otonan. Actually, the tradition of Balinese native birthday celebration is the otonan having full of spiritual values.

According to a research conducted by Sugi Lanus, the Founder of the Hanacaraka Society, there are several factors having caused the otonan tradition to fade, namely (1) the influx of foreign cultures such as birthdays; (2) difficulty to remember birthdays according to Hinduism like Wuku; (3) most people only commemorate their otonan to the third one; and (4) lack of awareness to preserve one’s own culture. Indonesian young generation should love and keep its own culture going forward so as not to disappear.

The otonan of Bali Travel Newspaper born on Tuesday (Jan. 11, 2011) or Anggara Wage Pahang not on Friday as it falls on January 11, 2019. Congratulations on the ninth anniversary of the Bali Travel Newspaper!