Perang Pandan at the village of Tenganan in Karangasem, East Bali, is an age-old tradition unique only to this well-preserved Balinese village in East Bali. Also referred to locally as 'mekare-kare' and 'megeret pandan', Perang Pandan is a mass coming-of-age ritual, dedicated to the Hindu god of war and the sky, Indra, which sees friendly duels between all male villagers, who bout each other armed with a small rattan shield in one hand and a tied packet of thorny 'pandan' leaves in the other. The event is held annually, adhering to its own local calendar. This 2017, Perang Pandan is held on July 11 in the villages of Tenganan Pegringsingan and Tenganan Dauh Tukad.
There are only two places in the world that are still producing hand woven double ikat to date, one in India and one is here at Tenganan Village. The heritage Geringsing ‘double ikat’ cloth, which female villagers wear as part of family regalia during the rituals, and which you can witness their making process on tours to Tenganan anytime of the year. During the height of the event that regularly coincides in the months of June and July, the special dueling arena is set up, village houses are gracefully adorned, and girls ride large man-powered wooden swings as part of the festivity. Around this main arena will be packed with cheering villagers, visiting spectators and photographers. Within the area, brave boys and young men take turns in pairs to 'fight' each other, inflicting each other’s bodies with lashes from the leaves' sharp thorns – there will be blood. Yet surprisingly, each contestant shows no pain. Rattan shields seem to be mere accessories. Wounds are simply treated with an herb, turmeric and vinegar mix, and which miraculously help dry up wounds in minutes. Those with a faint of heart may opt to see other highlights of Tenganan village, such as local food stalls displaying a huge array of tasty traditional cakes, or the making of ‘lontar’ palm leaf manuscripts, carved calendars and intricate art called ‘prasi’, and shop for intricate handicrafts such as woodcarvings and masks that are produced by the villagers, or even hunt for a unique piece of locally produced double ikat (using a technique known as resist dyeing).
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