Perang Pandan War Dance Ceremony 2018

Unique Annual Cultural Event in East Bali

Perang Pandan at Tenganan village, East Bali, is an age-old tradition unique only to this well-preserved old Balinese village in the Karangasem regency. 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. It 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 year, Perang Pandan is held on June 8 and June 30 (tentative dates) in the villages of Tenganan Pegringsingan and Tenganan Dauh Tukad, respectively.

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Tenganan comprises two sub-villages, Dauh Tukad (loosely translated as, 'west of the river'), and Pegringsingan. The latter is best known for its prized 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 duelling 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. Inside, 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) for the living room back home.

The village of Tenganan is within only 15 minutes' transfer north from the main Jalan Raya Candidasa road. And many hotels along the Candidasa coast, such as Alila Manggis, Candi Beach Resort and Spa, and Rama Candidasa, often provide shuttle transfers, especially during such major calendar events, to the village as part of their guest activities and tour options. 

Perang Pandan at Tenganan Pegringsingan

  • Location: Jalan Raya Nyuh Tebel, Tenganan Village, Karangasem
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