The Ritual Pandan War in Tenganan

Written by Riyan Adiyahasya Posted 17th March 2014, 6:15pm
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Translated by Shinta Dharmayu

The word, “War” always bring a negative perspective in everyone’s eyes, but this time, not the people of Tenganan. In Bali, the Tenganan village, every year they would have a celebration of different kinds of ritual wars. This war is actually a tribute to the God of War named "Dewa Indra".

Every year on the 8th and 9th of June, there is a ritual war called the Pandan War, or known as “Mekare-kare”. This ritual in Bali, the Karangasem regency, Tenganan village, is all about the agility of two young men in Tenganan, each with their weapons made out of the thorns of pandan and a shield to protect themselves.

This famous Pandan war is a popular tourist attraction in Bali, which has already invited many foreign tourists to Tenganan. It usually starts around 2 pm in the afternoon where all the villagers wear their formal Tenganan traditional clothes (made from Pegringsingan woven fabric). The contestants will be wearing a sarung (kamen), a scarf (saput), and an udeng (the traditional head band of Bali).

Before it all starts, the villagers from Tenganan would start a ritual called the “Melelewang” or as everyone would walk around the village to ask for protection to all. After that, they would have a palm wine drinking ritual, though the rest of the palm wine would be toss aside from the stage.

There are no strict rules in this Pandan war, each contestant would bring thorns of pandan on his right hand and a shield that is made of rottan on his left hand.

Both contestants shall attack each other, trying to hit the back of its opponent by grabbing him. After embracing each other, there is their chance to hit the opponent with the thorns of pandan leaves. Torn skin and fresh blood that drips to the ground is the tribute to the villagers of Tenganan for Dewa Indra, God of War.

In general, this is a belief is only known to the villagers of Tenganan rather than the other villagers in Bali. The villagers of Tenganan has their rules written by their ancestors as a heritage called the “Awig-awig”. Without knowing the rules of caste, they believe that Dewa Indra is the God of all gods.