Unique Pandanus War at Tenganan Village, Bali

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Illustration of pandanus war
Illustration of pandanus war

The people of Tenganan Village have a unique tradition called pandanus war. The village, located in Manggis subdistrict, Karangasem, is one of the oldest villages on the Island of Bali. It is surrounded by verdant hills like a fort.

Tenganan Village is about 10 km from the Candidasa tourist attraction and 78 km from Denpasar City. Or about 90 minutes’ drive by car to the northeast from Denpasar.

History

Pandanus war or mekare-kare is ceremonial procession to honor the ancestors and Lord Indra as the god of war, who fought against Maya Denawa, a king of demonic descent who was powerful and arbitrary forbidding his people to worship God.

Before starting the pandanus war tradition, Tenganan residents perform rituals around the village. Then, this war event is carried out in front of the Tenganan Village meeting hall every fifth month in the Balinese calendar (around October). The event lasts for two consecutive days starting at 2 pm and lasts for three hours.

Participants

The participants of the pandanus war in Bali are the youth of Tenganan Village as core participants and those from outside Tenganan village as supporting participants. Then, children who have grown up also take part in this unique event.

All participants in this war put on traditional Tenganan clothes called Pegringsingan woven cloth. The men only wear a sarong or kamen, a scarf and a headband. They don’t wear clothes or are shirtless.

As a weapon in this war, the participants use thorny pandanus tied in such a way so that it resembles a mace. All participants also use a shield made of woven rattan to protect themselves from enemy attacks.

Uniquely, this attraction is accompanied by selonding gamelan music, which is a sacred Tenganan musical instrument and can only be played by people who have been sanctified and on certain events.

Post-pandanus war

Even though the participants’ bodies are bleeding, they still look cheerful because it is an expression of their gratitude and a way of honoring Lord Indra. After the war is over, the pandanus thorns are plucked out together and their wounds are smeared with a traditional concoction made from betel leaf, turmeric and coconut oil.

After the pandanus war procession, they pray together at the temple. Even though there are participants injured, they do not hold any grudges at all. This is shown by eating together as a form of togetherness. The event is called megibung.

Other uniqueness

In addition to the pandanus war, the Tenganan people also have handicraft products in the form of traditional geringsing woven cloth. The manufacturing process is very complicated and takes a long time. They use natural dyes from plants.

Besides, the layout of their temples, buildings and yards is also unique in accordance with traditional rules inherited from generation to generation. Thus, Tenganan Village becomes an object for the development of a tourism village.

 

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