Tooth Filing Ceremony: Bali

Tooth Filing is an important rite of passage for Balinese Hindus that marks the transition from childhood to adulthood. Metatah or “tooth filing” is a common ritual which typically takes place during the months of July and August. In the Balinese belief system, the ceremony helps people rid themselves of the invisible forces of evil – teeth are the symbol of lust, greed, anger, insobriety, confusion and jealousy. Long teeth are seen as these signs and the filing of teeth is believed to cleanse the body and soul of unseen malignant forces. The teeth filing is performed by a professional known as a “sangging” who is traditionally of the Brahmana caste. Filing the teeth therefore renders someone both more physically and more spiritually beautiful, as well as symbolising the rite of passage for an adolescent into adulthood.

Artifacts found in the Buleleng regency have resealed that the Balinese have been holding the tooth filing ceremony for over 2000 years, hence it was not originally a Hindu ceremony. However, amidst the influx of other influences on the island, the tradition has remained, now having been absorbed into the predominantly Hindu belief system prevalent on the island. The principal of karma phala demonstrates how the Balinese always link present events with the past: karma means “action” or “attitude” and Phala means “effect” (

So, if you get a chance to checkout one of these ceremonies, be respectful when taking fotos and always be polite. Ask at your hotel or losmen if they know where a tooth filing ceremony is taking place. They are not widely advertised.

01 Jul 2008 – 31 Aug 2008 Dates to be confirmed