Similar to its neighbours, the Indonesian culture has their own folklore and legends pertaining to the moon. The people of Java and Bali has a folklore that is centred on the Indonesian moon goddess legend, which has become an important element of Asian culture.
According to Indonesian folklore, Ratih is the Balinese Goddess of the Moon. The legend goes that a demon named Kala Rau stole a large portion of the Elixir of Immortality, called Tirtha Amertha. When this act of wrongdoing came to Ratih’s attention, she informed the great Lord Wisnu, who threw a magic discus at the demon and cut his head off with it. However, since Kala Rau had already had a part of the Elixir, his head became immortal while the rest of his body died away.
In an attempt to exact revenge, Kala Rau chased Ratih across the sky and managed to catch her several times. This belief was held in Balinese hearts for a long time. Even to this day, many narrate the story of how Kala Rau occasionally catches and swallows Ratih, causing a lunar eclipse, but because he is just a disembodied head, he cannot hold on to her for too long.
To this day, during a lunar eclipse, the faithful believers of this legend in Indonesia pound the lesung (a utensil used to powder spices), which symbolises Kala Rau’s body. The tradition goes that the demon feels pain when the people pound the lesung. The minute they stop pounding and she escapes the lunar eclipse ends.
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