The Pandan Battle

photo credit: Masbrooo Magazine

It would seem that a lot of unusual things have already been seen in the world, but you have probably never heard about such a ritual as the battle with the sharp pandas leaves. Sometimes tourists call it "the battle of cacti". In fact, the pandan leaf used in this Balinese ritual is really prickly, but it is not a cactus. Pandan leaves are a bit like aloe leaves, but not so fleshy.

Check the date before you go and see the battle. Keep in mind that in Indonesia everywhere there is a concept of "rubber time" (jam karet) and be patient.

In Bali, the Pandan Battle is only observed in Tenganan village. Its inhabitants are known for being "Bali Aga", the indigenous Balinese who have preserved the island's oldest traditions. They did not obey the influence of the Majapahit Empire, which fled to Bali from Java in the 14th-15th centuries AD and became the founder of Balinese culture as we can see it everywhere on the island. The Bali Aga tradition has survived to this day in a few villages, the most famous of which are Tenganan and Trunyan. 

In Balinese language it is called mageret pandan or makare-kare or in Indonesian - perang pandan.

Inhabitants of Tenganan especially worship the Hindu god of war Indra, and because of him tradition of Pandan Battle is so honoured in village. It is believed that the tradition of fighting on pandas came from a Hindu myth. According to it, the Maya Denawa king proclaimed himself a more powerful god than the whole Hindu pantheon. He forbade people to hold ceremonies, which made the gods angry. God Indra fought Maya Denawa, defeated him and punished him for blasphemy. The Bali Pandan Battle takes place in honor of this event.

The Pandan Battle is a part of the Usabha Sambah ceremony, which lasts about a month and falls on the fifth month of the Balinese calendar and June according to the Gregorian calendar.

In order to make a weapon of battle, 10-15 toothed pandan leaves are tied together.  Shields are made of rattan. Participants are required to be shirtless and wear only a sarong and a traditional udeng headgear.  

The Pandan Battle is mandatory for men in Tenganan.  For young man, such battles are a ritual associated with the transition to adulthood. 

photo: Lifestyle Okezone

As a rule, fights start in the middle of the day. They are always preceded by the prayers and dances of the women of the village dressed in traditional costumes.

Blood spilled during the fight is considered a tribute to the gods. Battle wounds are healed with traditional remedies made of a mixture of arak, turmeric, galangal and other spices.