A video showing a traditional ritual from Indonesia is circulating on social media, falsely claiming that the footage shows deceased Palestinians who became victims of the ongoing Israel Hamas conflict.
The brief 11-second video shows several individuals lying on the ground, shrouded in white cloth bearing mystical symbols. The video also shows onlookers capturing the scene with their cameras.
BOOM found that the video is originally a traditional Balinese practice that was held in Indonesia in October, last year.
Over 9,000 Palestinians lost their lives after Israel declared a 'state of war' in response to an attack by the Palestinian militant group Hamas on October 7 this year. An Associated Press report states that U.S. and Arab leaders have increased pressure on Israel to reduce its offensive in Gaza to protect civilians. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has called for a humanitarian ceasefire, aiming to achieve a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
The video is circulating with the caption, "These are bodies of Palestinian Muslims, but if you feel, you will see the bodies of the entire Ummah."
Click here to view the post.
BOOM also received the same video on its WhatsApp tipline number (7700906588) with a request for verification.
BOOM broke the viral video into keyframes and conducted a reverse image search on one of them using the Russian search engine Yandex. The search led us to an Indonesia-based YouTube channel named 'Bali 77 Channel' carrying a similar video uploaded on October 31, 2022.
The video was uploaded with a Javanese caption that translates to, "THE GREATEST CANDIDATE 108 WATANGAN MATAH".
We then ran a keyword search in Javanese and located the viral video, which had been uploaded by an Indonesian YouTube channel named 'Bali Terkinii' on October 31, 2022.
The video was posted with a caption that translates to, "108 WATANGAN ‼️ Calonarang Sacred Mandala at Mario Tabanan Building".
Additionally, we performed a reverse image search on a keyframe from the video using Google Lens and found a news article by Bali Tribune featuring a similar photo as seen in the viral video published on October 31, 2022.
The article mentioned the visuals to be of a Calonarang performance which took place at the I Ketut Maria Art Building in Indonesia's Bali province on October 30, 2022.
Following this lead, we reached out to Adi Syafitrah, a fact checker affiliated with the Indonesian news outlet Mafindo, to obtain further information about the video. Syafitrah confirmed to BOOM that the video captures a Calonarang performance which took place on October 30, 2022, at the I Ketut Maria Art Building in Indonesia.
We also found a news article from October 30, 2022, published by the Indonesian news organisation Detik Bali, reporting about the event. The report stated that a total of 108 people became 'watangan' during the Calonarang performance.
When inquired about the Calonarang performance, Syafitrah explained that Calonarang, also known as Calon Arang, is a Balinese folk tradition. Syafitrah told BOOM, "The story of Calon Arang has a connection with the mythological creature Leak. The story of Calon Arang is performed in dramas and dances in Bali."
The fact-checker also noted that 'Watangan' or 'Watangan Matah' are people who play the role of corpses that represent victims of "leak" science. "'Ilmu Leak' is a Balinese Tantric meditation method which is often confused with black magic," Syafitrah told BOOM. Read more about Calonarang and Watangan here and here.