Perang Pandan : Balinese Cultural Events
As an island known for its rich culture and traditions, Bali offers many cultural spectacles for visitors and guests to experience. These rituals often take the form of dances, like the Perang Pandan dance, and performances that often depict a story from the Hindu ethos or a ritual that is dedicated to please one of the culture’s many deities.
In this article we will be discussing about one ritual in particular, called the Perang Pandan, a ritual fight reminiscent of the roman gladiators where two men fight bare-chested using the spiky Pandan leaves and circular rattan shields.
What is Perang Pandan?
Perang Pandan, also known as the war dance, is a ritual dance that symbolizes power and strength over enemies dedicated to the Hindu God of War, Indra.
As we briefly mentioned, the ritual involves adult men dressed in traditional Balinese clothing equipped only with a spiky pandan leaf in one hand and a circular shield on the other.
The participants wear nothing on their upper torso, exposing the body to the brutal spikes of the pandan leaves. The men would start fighting and attempt to slash each other’s backs with the sharp edges of the pandan leaf.
This ultimately leaves a bloody scene at the end of each fight. Victory is declared to the ones who can cause the most damage to their opponent, while enduring the pain they’ve received.
Miraculously however, the contestants don’t show any pain at all and have their wounds treated with a special local herb that cleans and dries the wounds.
Where can you witness Perang Pandan?
Perang Pandan is practiced exclusively by the Bali Aga people of Tenganan Village in the eastern Bali province of Karangasem. The majority of the locals here are devotees of the Hindu deity Indra, and perform this bloody ritual on the fifth month on the Balinese calendar which falls around June.
Additionally, the ritual is part of a month-long ceremony called the Usabha Sambah, where the locals perform a series of rituals in honor of their ancestors.
The Balinese culture is rich in traditions and history. Perang Pandan is just one of many rituals visitors can witness in Bali.
Mara River Safari Lodge is located not too far from the location of where the Perang Pandan is performed. Don’t hesitate to contact us should you need more information!