Witness the War Dance - Dates and VenueDates: First week of June, 2020
Venue: Villages of Tenganan Pergringsingan and Tenganan Dauh Tukad.
Rules of the Ceremony - Traditions and CustomsPerang Pandan is hosted by the Aga tribal group in Bali. This annual event is meant for men who are supposed to show their masculinity and maturity by fighting with one another. This scuffling between men is called makare-kare and is the highlight of the Usaba Sambah festival which lasts for a month. The special ceremony of fighting starts after the ritual drinking of the palm wines in specially made banana-leaf glasses while a person stands as a referee. During the event, the duelling arena is specially set-up and the village houses are beautifully decorated. The main duelling arena is packed by cheering villagers, visitors and photographers.
The SportDuring Perang Pandan, each man starts the fight with a bamboo shield and pandanus leaves. The fighting often leads to blood loss when the participants try to overcome one another by hugging each other and scratching the back of the opponent with the bunch of leaves that are tied together. Quite surprisingly, the wounds get healed in minutes with a mixture of some herbs, vinegar, and turmeric.
The men who win also get the girls, dolled up in the most gorgeous traditional clothing. The girls’ parade in the front of the village on a beautifully made wooden swings which are man-powered, and it’s a part of the festivities. This particular tradition of wooing unmarried women in this event reveals the historical actualities of the Aga group in Bali, Tenganan.
Story Behind The Perang PandanPerang Pandan is celebrated at the Tenganan village in East Bali and it is an age-old tradition which has been preserved beautifully at this old Balinese village. Locally, Perang Pandan is termed as megeret pandan and mekare-kare, and it is basically a coming-of-age mass ritual which is solely dedicated to the Hindu god of the sky, Indra, and god of war. During this traditional dance, there are friendly duels between the male villagers who attack each other with small rattan shields in one hand and a bunch of packed thorny ‘pandan’ leaves on the other hand. This is an annual event in Bali and it’s based on the local Çaka year calendar.
Tips While Visiting this Ancient CelebrationIf you wish to be a part of this particular cultural ritual in Bali, you need to plan early. The Tenganan Village is located in the eastern part of Bali, in the Karangasem province. The place generally overflows with tourists during this time and hence, good accommodation options get filled faster. Apart from this, here are a few things which you must know:
1. Perang Pandan is basically a part of a month-long Usabha Sambha ceremony in Bali. During this event, the locals perform different rituals to honour their ancestors. So, if you can be there during Perang Pandan, you can be a witness of one of the many rituals that they perform.
2. In case you are not too fond of fights and dislike bloodshed of any kinds, you can opt for seeing some other highlights of the Tenganan village. You can try out their local foods which are on a huge display in the stalls. There will be delicious traditional cakes too.
3. You can spend some time learning the making of the ‘lontar’, which are their traditional palm leaf manuscripts. Or take a few minutes off to see their ‘prasi’ art forms and carved calendars in the shops which sell intricate local handicraft produces.
4. Buying a piece of double ikat (the technique of resist dying) for your living room back home is a good idea if you wish to bring back a part of the traditional Balinese culture.
5. The village of Tenganan is located around 15 minutes away from the northern Bali and the Jalan Raya Candidasa road. So, there you will find several hotels and resorts along the Candidasa coast. These hotels also provide shuttle transfers for the tourists during such events as a part of their tour options. Hence, make a point to confirm the same before booking your stay.
The best part about the event is that, miraculously enough, the contestants do not show any sign of pain or anger towards the opponent once the ritual is over. They even sit together and have their meals on banana leaves, chatting and making merry. Make sure that you know the exact date of this event before you book your tickets for Bali. Perang Pandan is a day-long event and hence, do not confuse it with the month-long event of Usaba Sambha.