A giant baby sits cross-legged facing southwards on the main road of Sakah in Sukawati — and it’s hard to miss its wide stone-head towering over you. Its catus pata location (the centre of an area, often deemed sacred) makes it a symbolic monument but when it was built 30 years ago, not a soul was allowed to tell another of its history. Why?
Without a clear chronicle, the tales often told about the statue are chilling. Wails heard from the giant baby are expected come full moon. Some claim to have seen tears streaming down its formless eyes, whilst others witnessed its head shifting and the baby peering over towards them. The intersection where the statue perched is not unknown to vehicular tragedies either. It didn’t take long for local residents to brand it a curse.
When it was built in 1989 by the Gianyar Regent at the time, no one dared to speak of the statue’s origins. It was not until recently that one of the founding fathers Jero Mangku Bagus Balik put to bed the island’s curiosity, some 20 years later.
The statue’s backstory bears a philosophical narrative; spiritual symbolism rather than an ill-fated public possession.
There had been an appeal to erect a monument to mark the pride and joy of Gianyar. When motions of sculpting a Wayang figure failed to pass, they eventually agreed upon a statue of Sang Hyang Brahma Lelare.
Brahma Lelare is a figure of Shiva represented in the form of a baby, signifying human birth or a new beginning.
The statue, situated at the intersection that splits Sakah’s three main roads, is believed to be the meeting place between the magic of Shiva and the sacred Buddha (Sang Hyang Widhi). ‘Blah Tanah Sake Ah’ means that in the middle of a division (blah tanah) lies a view (sake) with no limits between the high and low (ah). It’s where two axis meet.
Jero Mangku Bagus Balik claimed that the strange incidents surrounding the statue only act as a reminder that even the inanimate could bear magical powers — sekala and niskala (the seen and the unseen).
People today visit the statue to pray. Many of them parents who haven’t been blessed with a child, asking for offspring. There are even non-Hindu people who wish to start a family that pray on-site to be blessed by their Hindu deities.
Whether it’s the hallowed ground or a wicked jinx, the ongoings around Bali’s giant baby statue remains one of the most notorious myths on the island.