Gelang Tridatu is the name of a bracelet you can see on the right wrist of most Balinese people, including Komang Suma and Kadek Dewi, cook and launderess at Gayatri respectively, whose hands are pictured here in a sweet embrace.
It is composed of three elements in the form of red, white, and black threads wound together into one. The three colours represent the different manifestations of God, that is Brahma (red), Vishnu (black), and Shiva (white). They represent, in order, the creator, the preserver, and the destroyer of the Universe, which have a human analogue in birth, life, and death.
Bali Hindus wear the Gelang Tridatu as a constant reminder that there are three manifestations of the Divine, that it is one’s interest to pray to receive God’s blessings and protection in this life before death eventually takes over, and to keep oneself on the path of righteousness.
It is believed in Bali that at certain times negative powers descend and make themselves felt, for example on the day in October known as Wal Sasih Kelima. To counter this, the local priest in each village prepares Gelang Tridatu bracelets for everyone to protect them from the negative forces that might otherwise do them harm.
Photograph: Ni Wayan Swandewi/Gayatri
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