Tri Datu means "The three colours", the colours being :
red, white and black, each colour having its individual owner from one of the manifestations of the godhead - Brahma (the creator),
Visnu (the preserver) and Shiva (the destroyer).
You will see the Tri Datu colours
en graved into the wood of pillars and posts of houses, temples
and other structures when the ceremony to bless and sanctify is carried out. The Balinese hold the ceremony
they call "Pemelaspas"to rid any area of bad spirits and "Tri Datu" is an
essential part of the religious ritual. An animal Is sacrificed to provide the blood to make the red color,
while the white is made from lime or chalk and the black made from charcoal. Sometimes a great deal of Tri Datu
thread is required for ceremonies such as "Manusa Yadnya" and "Mabya Kala", these ceremonies occur at
"Galungan"(the Balinese equivalent to the western Christmas New Year period). Then a commercially produced. Three
colored thread, which the Balinese call "tatebus" is bought from special stores in Denpasar.
Tri Datu isn't only attached to buildings, occasionally Balinese
attach the threads to their bodies... .around the right wrist - a red thread, around the ankle - a black, and
attached to the ear - the white. The use of the Tri Datu is to calm the mind so that it won't be influenced by
negative thoughts. The threads can also be wound together around the right wrist or placed on the crown
of the head. No matter how the Tri Datu is worn, the threads were placed or attached with prayers to endow
the recipient with power, strength, and longevity. Those who still have full faith in the power of Tri Datu, use
it to cure wounds. The colored threads being wrapped around the open wound directly on the skin as one would
use a bandage. For the cremation ceremony (Ngaben), Tri Datu threads take on a new name when they become
part of the ritual ceremonial equipment, being then called (among other possible names)"panjang-hilang"
meaning long and lost, possibly because they are consumed in the fire.
Apart from the uses mentioned, on specific occasions Tri Datu is
featured in the form of cloth and is worn as clothing by the original male inhabitants of a village... The black
being worn as a shirt, the white as an under-skirt sarong, and the red as an over-skirt. This dress is worn
when a villager is currently carrying out a ceremony at his own temple, or more generally, when the people
celebrate "Hari Raya Nyepi" (a day when you must be quite, stay at home, not use any
lights. fires, machines, vehicles or electrical equipment.) When the people wear Tri Datu dress, they are called
"sambangan". The word implies that they are awaiting a blessing or help from God. During the fifth and sixth months of the
Balinese calendar , you are likely to see the Balinese Hindus wearing "Sikepan".
This is just another form of Tri Datu, where the three colored
threads are plaited and the ends tired together forming a necklace or bangle. Before it is worn it will have
various items attached: old Chinese coins (the ones with the holes in the middle), small red onions, garlic
cloves, ginger roots and other "Jangu" (medicinal plants and roots). Without the coins and "Jangu"
mentioned, the plaited or entwined threads are not "Sikepan" and are, more often than not, merely intended as
personal adornment. Sikepan is a symbolic marker of those asking God for a blessing and, more likely,
protection from the bad spirits that infest the earth during the 5th and 6th months of the Balinese Calendar.
Each person seen wearing the "Sikepan"
is also currently having a cleans or exorcism at his or her home to rid the area of bad spirits that cause
problems. These exorcisms are called "Tilem" and will be held during the dangerous months mentioned.
The red for Brahma, the white for Shiva and the black for Visnu - TRI DATU.