Dance is a big part of Balinese culture. The sacred puppet trance dance Sanghyang Dedari has been practiced for centuries and is performed to ward off disease and to restore harmony in the village. Prepubescent girls (as young as eight years of age) who show the ability to go into trance are chosen to perform these dances.

The ceremony begins as the elders use music, chanting, incense, and puppets to induce the girls into trance.

As the girls enter the trance state they are adorned with headdresses and given fans by the elders. Their eyes are closed for the complete ceremony. The elders (often their mothers) direct them and help them avoid running into people, fire, and other obstacles. The music, chanting, and incense are continued throughout the ceremony, which lasts more than an hour.

The girls are then hoisted upon the shoulders of men who dance in a circle around the ceremonial fire.

Eventually the girls begin to run through the fire’s embers.

Finally, the girls are brought out of trance as the chanting ceases. They often fall to the ground.

Evidently, after the ceremony, the girls do not remember the dance or their performance. Below is an image of the three youngest girls taken about 15 minutes after the completion of the ceremony.