In Bali, the main duty of the scarecrows is to scare away the sparrows that eat the rice paddy seeds. But for specific supernatural reasons, the magic scarecrow – on which spells have been placed complete with offerings – is designed to counter any black magic attacks on the field or its owner.
Lelakut bertuah are few and far between in Bali nowadays, as farmers no longer know how to imbue scarecrows with the right spells or to assemble the required offerings. The artistically decorated scarecrows are now the most common, although they are made only to counter attacks from small birds.
Making the lelakut bertuah requires specific materials and processes. The basic material is a single branch from a coconut tree (papah nyuh nunggal). Such branches are usually found hanging alone far from other branches.
The papah nyuh nunggal is believed to carry a potent supernatural power that can ward off attacks from both black magic and birds.
After getting a branch, the farmers must consider on which certain special day they might create and place the enchanted scarecrow in the field. For the Balinese, kajeng kliwon is a magically sacred and, therefore, perfect day to learn mysticism, or cast spells or charms by chanting a mantra, including “summoning” a sorcerer scarecrow.
To ensure the presence of magical powers, a farmer must cast the spells and serve offerings consisting of two canang (simple offering of flowers, leaves and fragrances) and a satuh snack to the scarecrow. After placing the scarecrow in a paddy field on kajeng kliwon, the farmer will chew onion and jangu (a type of medicinal grass) three times before spitting the concoction at the scarecrow.
Similar offerings must be made every 15 days and on kajeng kliwon days.
If the sorcerer scarecrow succeeds in keeping the birds away, then during the harvest ceremony, the farmers must also make other offerings to Sang Hyang Sepuh and Sang Hyang Pemunah Sakti, the guardian gods of rice paddies and fields, as a token of their gratitude.
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