Tumpek Wayang: the day of art and bad luck

Tumpek Wayang is the day of art and also the day of bad luck for those born on that day.

Tumpek Wayang is a recurring rahinan, or special day, for the Balinese. It occurs every six months and is always on a Saturday, but there is no specific date due to the differences in the Gregorian and Balinese calendars. Without going deeper into the complicated Balinese calendar, you should know that there are 30 wuku in the Balinese calendar. Each wuku has seven days, making for a total of 210 days in one Balinese year. Tumpek Wayang happens on the seventh day of the twenty-seventh wuku. But perhaps that’s something to discuss in a later post.

Of all the Tumpek days in the Balinese calendar (yes, there are many of them!), Tumpek Wayang is considered the most mystical. It is said in old Balinese records that on Tumpek Wayang, the god Shiva permits a demon to devour a child born on the day. Thus to protect newborns, the Balinese conduct a special ceremony called the Sapuh Leger to ward off demons and prevent harm from befalling the child. The Sapuh Leger ceremony requires the help of a puppeteer, who will play special puppets as part of the ceremony.

It is also believed that Tumpek Wayang is a very unlucky day, similar to Friday the 13th in the West. Balinese myth tells us the story of an improper sexual relationship between the god Shiva and the goddess Uma, which gave birth to Dewa Kala, a scary demon. Thus, the Balinese tend to stay low during the day as the demons rule it.

However, the Balinese also believe that at the same time, the god Ishvara manifests on earth to protect humankind from evil and provide enlightenment. Enlightenment is thought to come in the form of artists who are provided with the power to create art and craft. On Tumpek Wayang, all sorts of masks, shadow puppets, and other art forms are spiritually cleansed through ceremonies. Therefore, it is also known as the day to celebrate art in all forms.

If you brave the unlucky day of Tumpek Wayang, you might find some temples holding ceremonies for various forms of traditional Balinese art, which is quite rare!