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Jakarta Post

A tribute to God of war

Wed, June 20, 2018   /   04:50 pm
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    Skilfull hands: Tengananese girls make offerings at the Truna Nyoman house ahead of Mekare-kare. JP/Agung Parameswara

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    A pair of blessings: A Tengananese man prepares offerings for Mekare-kare. Tenganan Pegringsingan village is home to an ancient community that strictly adheres to a traditional life of ritual and ceremony. JP/Agung Parameswara

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    Fresh from nature: Tengananese women carry offerings consisting of local fruits and traditional cakes. JP/Agung Parameswara

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    One on one: Tengananese boys fight each other using thorny pandan leaves during Mekare-kare. JP/Agung Parameswara

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    All out: Tengananese men fight each other in the middle of a crowd during Mekarekare (Pandanus Battle) in Tenganan Pegringsingan village in Karangasem, Bali. JP/Agung Parameswara

For centuries, residents of Tenganan Pegringsingan village in Karangasem, Bali, have been practicing as many as 46 rituals that are held annually. The village upholds the traditions of its unique social system.

Early this month, the residents commenced a one-month long ritual called

Ngusaba Sambah to honor Indra, the God of War. During this period, all of the residents were busy preparing special offerings such as bungan base, which consists of a complex arrangement of young coconut leaves and other local leaves. This type of offering is not available in the market and must be prepared by the locals.

The peak of the ritual is called Mekarekare (Pandanus Battle). Prior to the ritual combat, women prepare traditional healing herbs from turmeric, galangal, vinegar, coconut oil and other ingredients to heal wounds. The origins of the battle come from a local belief in the village that boys and men have to make a blood sacrifice for the God Indra. The battle is a way for them to express their devotion to the God and the people.

Wearing traditional clothes, the men wield thorny pandan leaves and a shield made of rattan during the battle. To enliven the battle, other residents play gamelan at a fast tempo.

The tradition also reflects a sense of togetherness. There are no winners or losers in this battle.