Perang Pandan, an Annual Thorny War in Bali

For the first-timer tourists, Bali can be overwhelming, Not only this island has a lot of wonderful beaches and lovely landscape, but the people here are very religious. As a result, you can see a lot of wonderful tradition, even violent ones like perang pandan.

Villagers watching the war. via Putu Rima A P/Travelingyuk

Translated literally into English, perang pandan means a pandanus war. Pandan is a tropical plant in the genus of pandanus (Screwpine). This genus has a lot of uses, one of them is apparently as a weapon for this war. Here is all you need to know about perang pandan.

Location

pegringsingan Village. Putu Rima A P/Travelingyuk

There is only one place in the whole world where the ritual of perang pandan is practiced. The Aga Village of Tenganan Pegringsingan. This is one of only a few ancient villages in Bali that still hold true to their traditional beliefs. The tradition in the Aga villages might be a bit different from other parts of Bali. Tenganan Pegringsingan is also popular for its traditional clothes; the gringsing clothes.

The war

Two men fight using pandan leaves. via Putu Rima A P/Travelingyuk

Perang pandan is an ancient tradition, even among other Balinese traditions. As the name implies, the weapon of this war is pandan leaves, the ones with sharp thorns on each side. Several leaves are bound together to form a club with lots and lots of thorns. The weapon is not supposed to be a club, but more of a sword. Most of the time, the wounds are blisters and deep scratches.

Cultural reasons

Visible scratches. Via Putu Rima A P/Travelingyuk

The participants of this war are the men of the village, the ones that have come to age. Each man will face another man and fight using the pandan sword. Perang pandan also has other names; Makare-kare and Mageret Pandan. This war is part of a religious Sasih Sembah ceremony. This war is dedicated to Lord Indra, the highest God in this village.

Time of the war

A girl from the village. via Putu Rima A P/Travelingyuk

Perang Pandan is usually held for two days, with each contestant will go at it for a minute. Each session of the war will last three hours or so. This war is usually held every June, at the end of Sasih Sembah. The war takes place in the yard of the village hall, from 14:00 until 17:00. Make sure you check the schedule for the next war if you want to witness it.

Girls watching the war. via Putu Rima A P/Travelingyuk

The participants will usually get a scar and immediate treatment using traditional ointments. After the war, there are no hard feelings left whatsoever. Part of it is that people having fun with their fellow villagers. To some, this is the rite of passage they have to do to be a man.

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Bali Indonesia perang pandan
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