Ceremony of Otonan (birthday) is one of the old Balinese tradition. Different with the birthday party commonly, this Balinese tradition is actually a private and comprehensive ritual that only celebrated by the family internally. By certain kinds of oblation, the ritual is intended for one’s inner and outer self along with his kanda empat or four companions that are believed to accompany him since birth to the end of lifetime and even the period after death.
Etymologically, there may have been a common ‘misperception’ here where birthday in the Gregorian calendar should be celebrated on the same day as the word suggests and not the same date (should be birth date). On the contrary, otonan in the Balinese (Hindu) tradition is similar thing but of different context. This one is celebrated every 210 days on the same day based on Javano-Balinese wuku year. So, it can be said a real birthday. For example if one was born on Wednesday (day) Kliwon (five-day week) Dungulan (one of thirty wukus), he will celebrate his otonan on the same day as above.
They are expressed in personification as amniotic fluid, vernix cascosa, the afterbirth and the blood. In Hindu belief, the names of the four companions will change in keeping with the increasing age of the human self and so are the places where they indwell. The four will loyally keep the self in this world. If ‘spiritual’ communication and empowerment run well among the five, one will never feel fearful wherever he goes and can do healing. As loyal and eternal companions, too, they will accompany the self around the clock. By doing this, they will know every single deed of the self during its interaction with corporeal body. After death, on facing the court of Yama, no facts can be hidden or no lies can be told, as the four companions will deliver the true witness.
In essence, otonan(birthday) is an immensely important celebration for the Hindus. It constitutes right moment to reorganize, encourage the relationship of human self with the four integrated companions as the otonan contains two dimensional aspects, both sekala (visible) and niskala (invisible). By this, it is also expected to promote harmony between the body with soul and finally reach eternal bliss here and after.