Perang Pandan: The Traditional Balinese War Dance Ceremony

Bali is not only about beautiful beaches and exciting party places, but it also has a rich cultural heritage. There are many cultural events for visitors and travellers to experience. Each one of those consists of a different form of dances, art exhibitions, socio-economic events and much more. Perang Pandan is one of the dance forms which depicts the story from Hindu ethos or which is based on a ritual which is dedicated to pleasing one of the deities in the Balinese culture.

Witness the War Dance - Dates and Venue

Dates: First week of June, 2020 
Venue: Villages of Tenganan Pergringsingan and Tenganan Dauh Tukad.

Rules of the Ceremony - Traditions and Customs

Balinese Women in Traditional Attire
Balinese Women Draped in Traditional Attires
Source
Perang 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 Sport

Perang Pandan
A glimpse during the fight
Source
During 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 Prize" 
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 Pandan 

Perang Pandan
Perang Pandan
Source
Perang 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 Celebration

Perang Pandan
Excited spectators during the ceremonious war dance
Source
If 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.

Perang Pandan
Perang Pandan delicacies
Source
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.

Perang Pandan
Tenganan Masks
Source
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.

This post was published by Anuradha Chakraborty

Share this post on social media
Google +

Bali Packages

Compare quotes from upto 3 travel agents for free

Book Bali Activities

Related Articles

Fairs & Festivals

Festivals in Bali - The Island's Most Celebrated Feasts

Fairs & Festivals

Bali Kite Festival: Indonesian Sky Celebrates its True Colours in Style!

Art & Culture

The Bali Arts Festival 2019 - A Balinese Cultural Rollercoaster

Fairs & Festivals

New Year in Bali - 7 Ways To Spend A Memorable New Year in Bali

Experiences

Galungan - Bali's Most Important Festival | 2019 Dates & Festivites

Fairs & Festivals

Bali Spirit Festival - 7 Reasons You MUST Visit This Unique Gathering

Travel Tips

A Complete Guide to Travelling to Bali in April

Travel Tips

Currency Exchange in Bali

Romantic & Honeymoon

Bali vs Maldives - Which Tropical Destination Should You Go to Next?

Top Places

8 Cities in Bali You Must Cover To See This REAL Indonesian Gem

Adventure

Skydiving in Bali - Best Places in Bali for Skydiving

Art & Culture

Religion in Bali: Explore Balinese Hinduism and More

Shopping

What To Buy in Bali | 10 Must-Buy Bali Items & Where To Find Them

Art & Culture

Dances of Bali: Get Awestruck by the Culture of Balinese Dance

Art & Culture

Languages in Bali - Common Phrases to Help You in the Island

Art & Culture

Culture of Bali - Indonesia's Most Popular Island

Travel Tips

Casinos in Bali - Your Guide to The Legalities For Gambling in Bali

Adventure

Kitesurfing in Bali - Best Operators and Places in Bali for Kitesurfing

Travel Tips

Bali Or Phuket - Where Should You Go Next?

Travel Tips

Safety in Bali - Safety Tips While Travelling In Bali

Adventure

These Best Water Sports in Bali That are Sure to Give you an Adrenaline Rush

Experiences

5 Golf Courses in Bali for the Perfect Golfing Experience

Architecture

Architecture of Bali : Everything You Need to Know

Experiences

Spend a Beautiful Tropical Evening on a Sunset Dinner Cruise in Bali

Adventure

Water Parks in Bali

Road Trips

Renting a Bike in Bali - Insights for a Comfortable Vacation

Experiences

9 Spas in Bali to Completely Relax Your Body and Mind!

Travel Tips

Bali Visa For Indians: A Complete Guide to Applying for a Bali Visa

Experiences

Volunteering in Bali: All You Need to Know for Volunteering in Bali

Experiences

Top 4 Spots to View the Sunrise in Bali!

Beaches & Islands

Must Visit Places in Bali

Comments on this post