Leyaks, pronounced le-aks (the y is silent) are the evil spirits of Bali and Rangda is their queen. Her likeness is the epitome of evil and is often depicted eating children. A terrifying sight, an old bare breasted woman armed with long sharp claws and curving fangs, her long tongue extends to her knees and is tipped with flames. She is adorned with the entrails of her victims as jewelry. In the classic battles of good versus evil in Bali, she is evil and her noble foe is the mythical lion Barong. Although Rangda is evil and feared, the Balinese people honor her power and erect statues in an attempt to not bring forth her wrath. Bali’s religion is a unique version of Hinduism and similarities can be drawn between Rangda and Kali. Kali, the Hindu mother goddess, is an often frightful looking goddess of time and change. She is most notable for being intoxicated from the blood of her foes.
Although there are several stories of the origins of Rangda, this is the most popular Balinese version. Tjalon Arang, an 11th century witch, felt that her beautiful daughter, Ratna was snubbed by a handsome prince named Daha. The prince was in great fear of the evil witch and refused the hand of her daughter. Rangda (the witch in her monstrous shape) flew into a rage and vowed to destroy the happy and prosperous Daha. She gathered up her minions and danced in the cemetery to honor Begawati, the deity of black magic. The evil witch and the deity struck a deal. Soon the villagers loyal to Prince Daha began to fall ill in great numbers. After discovering the witch’s evil plan, the prince sent his bravest solders to sneak into the bed chambers of the witch and kill her in her sleep. When they stabbed her in the heart it only angered the evil witch, who set the attackers ablaze with fire shot from her eyes. She then went into the cemetery dug up the recent corpses, consumed them and wore their entrails as necklaces.
The desperate prince sent for a high level holy man, the only living being who could vanquish the witch. The holy man sent his assistant to ask for the witch’s daughter’s hand in marriage. During the honeymoon it was discovered that the source of the witch’s power came from a little magic book. With a hastily made copy of the book the holy man was able to restore life to the corpses that had not decayed or were eaten by the witch. The holy man and Rangda had an epic battle where the holy man killed her in her monstrous form. He then absolved her of her crimes, allowed her to atone for them, revived her in her human form, then killed her again.
The stories of Rangda, Barong, and other mythical Balinese creatures is played out nightly across the island of Bali in song and dance. Whether you want a relaxing beach, an aromatic rejuvenating spa, a cultural experience or any combination, Bali is a true tropical paradise backdrop – exotic in fragrance and culture.
To read more about Rangda’s more endearing foe Barong click here